Butterflies and Bees Aren’t the Only Flower Pollinators

Don’t be so hasty to shoo away those beetles, flies and wasps you see in your garden. They’re helping your flowers produce seed for the future!

With spring in full force and flowers aplenty, it’s a real pleasure to watch the butterflies and honeybees at work, moving from flower to flower sipping nectar along the way. As they sip nectar, they are also hard at work pollinating, or spreading pollen between flowers.

In addition to wildflowers, more than 30 percent of the foods humans eat on a daily basis are pollinated by insects. Oddly enough, many of them are pollinated by something other than a butterfly or honeybee. There are many species of flies, beetles and even some birds that pollinate flowers and fruits.

Some examples of pollinators other than butterflies or bees:

  • Other Types of Bees: many species of communal bees, bumblebees and carpenter bees that pollenate flowers are just as important as honeybees. Some live in hives, but many do not.
  • Beetles: several species including soldier beetles, lightning bugs and flower scarabs feed on pollen and transfer it to other flowers.
  • Flies: species including hover flies, bee flies and house flies all pollinate.
  • Wasps: many think of wasps as predators, but paper wasps and many of the parasitic wasps (wasps that use other insects as hosts) feed on pollen and nectar from flowers, too.
  • Hummingbirds: it may be hard to believe, but hummingbirds are pollinators. The flowers hummingbirds visit reflect different wavelengths of color than flowers that attract insect pollinators, thus leaving more nectar for hummingbirds.

Take a look at our picture gallery to see examples of these creatures. The next time you’re admiring the flowers in your lawn and garden, don’t be so hasty to shoo away those beetles, flies and wasps you see. They’re helping your flowers produce seed for the future!

Picture of Nathan Riggs
Nathan Riggs
Nathan Riggs is a SAWS project coordinator and licensed irrigator who also happens to have a degree in entomology from Texas A&M University. Yes, Nathan’s a bug expert, and not just on water bugs! When he’s not hard at work on SAWS conservation projects, he enjoys a wide variety of interests including: landscaping, hiking, photography of flowers, insects and other critters, and planning his next adventure with his wife Ella and family.
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