Pollinators of 2016 (sick of mr yet?)

Travis O enoster@hotmail.com
Mon, 04 Jan 2016 17:41:51 PST
Happy new year!

Nearing the end of 2015, I wrote a series of articles on my blog about the local pollinators I had observed over the course of the year. My focus was (and still is) to observe native and exotic bulbs (and other plants, of course) and their floral visitors. Links to these posts:

Native bees:

Moths and butterflies:



Beetles, bugs, spiders:

Or view the lot:

I am hesitant to call every insect that visits a flower a "pollinator" because I define a true pollinator by their ability and propensity to pollinate a given plant. However, nearly all insects have the potential to be pollinators of and can be considered as such in their own right. It's circumstantial, and depends on the context whether they are "pollinators" or not. To reiterate, and perhaps contradict myself, a pollinator is any insect which facilitates pollination, yet they can become demoted to the status of "floral visitor" if they are merely thieves of floral resources without contributing to pollination. Examples of the latter are when bumblebees or large carpenter bees bite hole in the sides of flowers with long tubes to access to the nectar, bypassing the reproductive structures.

Bees and butterflies are the most popular and cherished pollinators, yet flies, wasps, beetles, moths, true bugs, and a variety of other arthropods are also important pollinators (many are specialists of specific flowers), often outnumbering bees and butterflies, particularly in alpine and tundra ecosystems.

I believe this work to be important in the context of plant conservation. Pollinators are good for plant fitness and biodiversity, both important aspects of a healthy ecosystems. Providing habitat and food sources for pollinators is in turn highly beneficial to plants. Then as we move up the food chain, plants and insects feed larger creatures, some of which directly benefit us.

Bulbs, speaking loosely to include other flowers with underground/ground level storage organs, attract a multitude of different types of pollinators. Insects like bees and butterflies are no surprise, but wasps, moths, beetles, flies, and even rodents (i.e. http://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/… ) are considered the primary pollinators of many bulbs. Such amazing plants, not only have they evolved to survive less than perfect conditions [and utilizing a storage structure of some kind], but they've adapted to form mutually beneficial mutualisms with the local fauna.

Have a good 2016! More posts to come...

Travis Owen
Rogue River, OR


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