Six pollinators that rarely make the bee-list
With summer in full swing, it’s the perfect time to take a closer look at what’s buzzing around your garden. But bees aren’t the only pollinators helping to keep green spaces healthy and lush. Here are six other hard working pollinators to appreciate this summer:
The hummingbird clearwing moth is a beautiful sight to see (pictured above). They drink nectar from plants with open or deep flowers and pollinate many of them from the pollen caught on their upper body. Interestingly, actual hummingbirds and hummingbird moths enjoy drinking the same nectar, including honeysuckle, lilac, snowberry, blueberry and thistles.
Wasps need large amounts of pollen and nectar to keep their energy levels up. While they don’t have as much hair on their bodies as bees for carrying pollen, their frequent stops to feed help plant pollination. Some species of wasps can be a gardener’s best friend because they eat insects that can damage plants.
Female mosquitoes bite but males don’t. They get their food from plant nectar. Unlike bees who actively gather pollen, mosquitoes fly from flower to flower to feed. Along the way, they carry pollen from one blossom to the next. Mosquitoes pollinate many types of plants and some orchid species are dependent on mosquitoes for pollination.
Flies are the second most important group of pollinators in the world, coming in right after bees. One group of flies known as flower flies got their name becouse they visit flowers to feed on nectar and pollen. Flower flies are often mistaken for bees because many have a similar yellow and black colouration, but don’t be fooled – flower flies don’t sting.
Beetle-pollinated plants often have simple, bowl-shaped flowers – like magnolia and waterlilies. Many of these plants evolved before bees, making beetles some of the earliest pollinators. Beetles eat their way through petals and other parts of the flower to get to the nutritious pollen inside. They will then defecate within other flowers and roll around in it … gross but effective.
Hummingbirds use their long beak and tongue to drink the nectar from flowers. Sticky pollen will cling to the side of the beak, transferring pollen to the next flower it drinks from. A hungry hummingbird might visit between 1,000 and 3,000 flowers a day.