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When we think of pollinators, butterflies and honey bees are usually the first that come to mind. But, there are many other creatures that move pollen from one place to another! Without pollinators, many flowers and fruits would not exist.
Wood Boring Beetle
This long-horned wood boring beetle (Strangalia luteicornis) spends its days feeding on pollen, nectar and flowers. The larvae of wood boring beetles develop inside the wood of living and dead trees. (Photo: Bart Drees)
White-lined Sphinx Moth
This white-lined sphinx moth (Hyles lineata) takes a break from visiting flowers to rest on a screen. This moth frequently flies during the day and visits a wide variety of flowers including lantana and lilies. Sometimes called hawk moths or hummingbird moths, sphinx moths feed on nectar and are able to move pollen large distances from flower to flower. (Photo: Bart Drees)
Tumbling Flower Beetle
This tumbling flower beetle (Mordella sp.) is enjoying a pollen snack from this Lazy Daisy (Aphanostephus skirrhobasis). These beetles serve to move pollen from one flower to the next while they feed.
This tachinid (prounounced tuh-kin-id) fly (Archytas spp.) looks like a larger and more hairy version of the common house fly (Musca domestica). However, while tachinid flies enjoy pollen and nectar as adults, their offspring develop inside the bodies of pest caterpillars and serve as beneficial biological control agents. (Photo: Bart Drees)
Red Admiral Butterfly
A patch of phlox is too good to pass up for this red admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) as it searches for nectar.
This red paper wasp (Polistes metricus) may be viewed as an aggressive member of the landscape, but it loves pollen and nectar from flowers just as much as the gentler butterflies. Wasps are active foragers and spread pollen across a wide area. (Photo: Bart Drees)
Little Black Ant
Many species of ants collect nectar from flowers as an energy source. this little black ant (Monomorium minimum) is visiting a yellow Gaillardia (Gaillardia spp.)
Leaf Cutter Bee
Leaf cutter bees (Megachile spp.) and their cousins the mason bees and orchard bees are not like honeybees. They live alone in solitary nests. Despite their solitude, these types of bees are extremely important pollinators of flowers. Photo: Bart Drees
People may not necessarily think of hummingbirds as pollinators, but it is certainly one of the functions they perform. Hummingbirds, like butterflies and honeybees, flit from flower to flower sipping nectar. At the same time, they are picking up pollen on their bodies and transferring it between flowers while feeding.
This hover fly (Eristalis lineata) is enjoying a sip of nectar from a lazy daisy (Aphanostephus skirrhobasis). Many species of hover flies resemble honey bees as a means of camouflage so that potential predators will not want to eat them. Hover flies can be differentiated from bees by counting their wings: Hover flies have one pair of wings and bees have two pairs of wings.
Honey bees (Apis mellifera) are perhaps the most important pollinator on Earth. They pollinate more than 30 percent of the plants that produce food for humans, including citrus fruits, vine crops such as squash, cucumbers and watermelons, and they pollinate cotton plants.
Green June Beetle
Green june beetles (Cotinis nitida) are beautiful examples of how work produces results. These beetles help pollinate flowers, including some tree fruits, only to feed on the fruits as they ripen later in the year. (Photo: Bart Drees)
Goldenrod Soldier Beetle
This goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus) takes a break from feeding on pollen and insects to rest on a lazy daisy (Aphanostephus skirrhobasis). Soldier beetles are closely related to fireflies and have a similar appearance.
Fatal Metalmark Butterfly
This fatal metalmark butterfly (Calephelis nemesis) takes a quick break from sampling a fall aster.
This carpenter bee (Xylocopa micans) is busy collecting pollen and nectar from a larkspur (Consolida ambigua). Carpenter bees differ in appearance from bumblebees (Bombus spp.) by their lack of hair and metallic appearance. In addition, carpenter bees are solitary, making a nest for themselves in wood and not living in a hive with others.
Compare this bumblebee (Bombus spp) to the carpenter bee photo in this gallery. Notice how the bumblebee is covered with black and yellow hairs. Bumblebees live in hives and collect pollen and nectar for their offspring. (Photo: Bart Drees)
Braconid wasps are ant-sized insects that feed on pollen and nectar as adults. they lay their eggs inside of pest insects such as aphids, caterpillars, scales and whiteflies. this braconid wasp is sampling pollen from queen anne's lace (Daucus carota).
Black Swallowtail Butterfly
This black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) flits among the wildflowers as it sips nectar and moves pollen from one flower to another.