Bug o’the Week – Closed for June III – More Pollinators

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Closed for June III More Pollinators

Howdy, BugFans,

A pollinator is an animal (not all pollinators are insects) that visits flowers and carries their pollen to other flowers.  Bees, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, and wasps are all practitioners to some degree.  Hummingbirds pollinate a few flowers (like wild columbine), and in the Southwest, a few bats do, too.

We’re well into National Pollinator Week now, and the news isn’t wonderful, so the BugLady is off-setting it with pictures of some really spiffy pollinators.

Shrinking pollinator populations – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/shrinking-pollinator-populations-could-be-killing-427000-people-per-year-180981353/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20221222-daily-responsive&spMailingID=47793660&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2362605046&spReportId=MjM2MjYwNTA0NgS2

And more shrinking pollinator populations – https://e360.yale.edu/features/insect_numbers_declining_why_it_matters

How can we help insects, including pollinators?  Plant an array of native wildflowers, shrubs, and trees that will bloom from spring through fall, reduce or eliminate pesticides, provide brush piles and other shelter, don’t be a tidy gardener, and set out a bird bath (birds will appreciate this, too).  In Wisconsin, plug into our bumble bee https://wiatri.net/inventory/BBB/ and monarch caterpillar monitoring programs https://wiatri.net/inventory/BBB/.

Meanwhile – it’s National Pollinator Week – celebrate appropriately.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

Bug o’the Week – Closed for June 2 – Pollinators

Bug o’the Week
by Kate Redmond

Closed for June II Pollinators

Howdy, BugFans,

We’re getting a jump on National Pollinator Week (June 17 to 23) with a few articles about pollinators, which, if you like to eat or watch birds or photograph flowers or (add your favorites here ___________) are pretty indispensable.

What does it take to be a successful pollinator?  The ability to deliver pollen to multiple flowers in a short time span and the ability to transport pollen, either by general hairiness or by special pollen carrying structures.  Ants, with their smooth exteriors, impeccable grooming, and pedestrian habits, are all over flowers, but they are inefficient pollinators.

 

Flies are all over flowers, too – are they on the list of important pollinators?  Check this: https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-much-do-flies-help-pollination-180977177/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20210308-daily-responsive&spMailingID=44581828&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=1960663514&spReportId=MTk2MDY2MzUxNAS2

How do pollinators find flowers?  Flowers have developed a variety of lures to attract insects, like color, UV reflections, patterns on petals that act as nectar guides, electrostatic charges, and flower size and shape.  Specialized flowers “train” their specialized visitors, with which they have evolved over millennia.  Scent is important, too, especially for nocturnal visitors.  What happens if an insect can’t smell its usual blossoms?  https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/air-pollution-makes-flowers-smell-less-appealing-to-pollinators-study-suggests-180983766/?utm_source=smithsoniandaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=editorial&spMailingID=49430515&spUserID=ODg4Mzc3MzY0MTUyS0&spJobID=2641244472&spReportId=MjY0MTI0NDQ3MgS2

A lot has been written in the past decade about the crash of honey bee colonies.  Honey bees are, after all, responsible for pollinating about one-third of the foods we eat, accounting for about $15 billion in crop values annually (and they make honey and beeswax, too).  But, honeybees are an alien bee that was imported to pollinate alien crops, and we have many species of native bees.  Do honey bees disrupt native relationships – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-41271-5?fbclid=IwAR3gFJuCvy1t3GEPCRGDW1nDzOGLjB-G0vLFiYHJtfU7TgVLTUnShMa5NJ0

Go outside – look at pollinators.

Kate Redmond, The BugLady

Bug of the Week archives:
http://uwm.edu/field-station/category/bug-of-the-week/

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