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.
Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds like tube or funnel shaped red, yellow or orange flowers that produce a lot of nectar.
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.
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.
Beetles like the Eastern-Eyed Click Beetle rely upon flower smell to find flowers. Beetles especially like spicy and sweet flowers.
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.
Look for these pollinators and more during your next visit to a New York State Park!
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Post by Susan Carver (OPRHP) and Julie Lundgren (OPRHP/NYNHP).