The Birds and The Bees …. Beetles, Butterflies, and Moths: A Salute To Our Native Pollinators

Everyone knows that honey bees are great pollinators, but there are so many more insects and animals that are also pollinators. In recognition of Pollinator Week (June 15 – 21), we introduce some of our native pollinators. Each day from April to mid-October, millions of bees, butterflies, moths, wasps, ants, beetles and a few other animals pollinate New York’s trees, shrubs, wild flowers, and agricultural crops while they are feeding on the plant’s pollen or nectar. By transferring the pollen from one flower to another flower, the plant can produce seeds and fruits (fruit in botanical terms includes most of what we call fruits, nuts, and vegetables). Food for us and food for all the animals in the wild depends on this. In fact, pollinators help to maintain healthy and diverse flora, fauna, and ecosystems across New York State and around the world.

Bees, like this Small Black Bee, are our premier pollinators.  New York State is home to over 475 bee species.  Bees like brightly colored blue or yellow flowers that are full of nectar and have a sweet or minty fragrance.

small black bee
By Sam Droege [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds like tube or funnel shaped red, yellow or orange flowers that produce a lot of nectar.

ruby throat hummingbird
By Joe Schneid, Louisville, Kentucky (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Look for moths like this Snowberry Clearwing Moth on white or pale flowers that open in the late afternoon or night or on dense flower heads like goldenrod. These large moths are often mistaken for hummingbirds. Both seek out plants that produce a lot of nectar deep within the flower.

snowberry clearwing moth
By Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Like the Snowberry Clearwing Moth, this Question Mark Butterfly can also be found on flower clusters like goldenrod and yarrow (shown), and flowers that produce a lot of nectar deep in the flower.

q mark butterfly
I, Jmabel [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Beetles like the Eastern-Eyed Click Beetle rely upon flower smell to find flowers.  Beetles especially like spicy and sweet flowers.

e eyed click beetle
By Henry Hartley (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Although you might be a little wary of this insect, this Paper Wasp pollinates a variety of plants including milkweed (shown here), goldenrod, and fall asters. Many different kinds of wasps, including a group called the pollen wasps, are important pollinators.

paper wasp
By Bruce Marlin [CC BY-SA 2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.
Look for these pollinators and more during your next visit to a New York State Park!

Learn more at:

Butterflies and Moths of North American

Formicidae of the United States

New York State Biodiversity Clearinghouse

Pollinator Week

United States Department of Agriculture / Forest Service, Pollinators

Xerces Society

Post by Susan Carver (OPRHP) and Julie Lundgren (OPRHP/NYNHP).

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