A pollinator is an animal that moves pollen from the male anther of a flower to the female stigma of a flower. This helps to bring about fertilization of the ovules in the flower by the male gametes from the pollen grains.

Insect pollinators include bees, (honey bees, solitary species, bumblebees); pollen wasps (Masarinae); ants; flies including bee flies, hoverflies and mosquitoes; lepidopterans, both butterflies and moths; and flower beetles. Vertebrates, mainly bats and birds, but also some non-bat mammals (monkeys, lemurs, possums, rodents) and some lizards pollinate certain plants. Among the pollinating birds are hummingbirds, honeyeaters and sunbirds with long beaks; they pollinate a number of deep-throated flowers. Humans may also carry out artificial pollination.

A pollinator is different from a pollenizer, a plant that is a source of pollen for the pollination process.

Eristalinus October 2007-6
A syrphid fly (Eristalinus taeniops) pollinating a common hawkweed
A mining bee (Andrena lonicerae) pollinating a honeysuckle (Lonicera gracilipes).


Plants fall into pollination syndromes that reflect the type of pollinator being attracted. These are characteristics such as: overall flower size, the depth and width of the corolla, the color (including patterns called nectar guides that are visible only in ultraviolet light), the scent, amount of nectar, composition of nectar, etc.[1] For example, birds visit red flowers with long, narrow tubes and lots of nectar, but are not as strongly attracted to wide flowers with little nectar and copious pollen, which are more attractive to beetles. When these characteristics are experimentally modified (altering colour, size, orientation), pollinator visitation may decline.[2][3]

It has recently been discovered that cycads, which are not flowering plants, are also pollinated by insects.[4]

Types of pollinators


Lipotriches sp.
Lipotriches sp. bee pollinating flowers

The most recognized pollinators are the various species of bees[5], which are plainly adapted to pollination. Bees typically are fuzzy and carry an electrostatic charge. Both features help pollen grains adhere to their bodies, but they also have specialized pollen-carrying structures; in most bees, this takes the form of a structure known as the scopa, which is on the hind legs of most bees, and/or the lower abdomen (e.g., of megachilid bees), made up of thick, plumose setae. Honey bees, bumblebees, and their relatives do not have a scopa, but the hind leg is modified into a structure called the corbicula (also known as the "pollen basket"). Most bees gather nectar, a concentrated energy source, and pollen, which is high protein food, to nurture their young, and inadvertently transfer some among the flowers as they are working.[6] Euglossine bees pollinate orchids, but these are male bees collecting floral scents rather than females gathering nectar or pollen. Female orchid bees act as pollinators, but of flowers other than orchids. Eusocial bees such as honey bees need an abundant and steady pollen source to multiply.

Honey bees

Honeybee pollen 1165
Honey bee with pollen adhering: Bees are the most effective insect pollinators.

Honey bees travel from flower to flower, collecting nectar (later converted to honey), and pollen grains. The bee collects the pollen by rubbing against the anthers. The pollen collects on the hind legs, in a structure referred to as a "pollen basket". As the bee flies from flower to flower, some of the pollen grains are transferred onto the stigma of other flowers.

Nectar provides the energy for bee nutrition; pollen provides the protein. When bees are rearing large quantities of brood (beekeepers say hives are "building"), bees deliberately gather pollen to meet the nutritional needs of the brood.

Good pollination management seeks to have bees in a "building" state during the bloom period of the crop, thus requiring them to gather pollen, and making them more efficient pollinators. Thus, the management techniques of a beekeeper providing pollination services are different from, and to some extent in tension with, those of a beekeeper who is trying to produce honey.

Millions of hives of honey bees are contracted out as pollinators by beekeepers, and honey bees are by far the most important commercial pollinating agents, but many other kinds of pollinators, from blue bottle flies, to bumblebees, orchard mason bees, and leaf cutter bees are cultured and sold for managed pollination.

Other species of bees differ in various details of their behavior and pollen-gathering habits, and honey bees are not native to the Western Hemisphere; all pollination of native plants in the Americas historically has been performed by various native bees.

Other insects

Australian painted lady feeding closeup
An Australian painted lady feeding on nectar

Many insects other than bees accomplish pollination by visiting flowers for nectar or pollen, or commonly both. Many do so adventitiously, but the most important pollinators are specialists for at least parts of their lifecycles for at least certain functions. For example, males of many species of Hymenoptera, including many hunting wasps, rely on freely flowering plants as sources of energy (in the form of nectar) and also as territories for meeting fertile females that visit the flowers. Prominent examples are predatory wasps (especially Sphecidae, Vespidae, and Pompilidae). The term "pollen wasps", in particular, is widely applied to the Masarinae, a subfamily of the Vespidae; they are remarkable among solitary wasps in that they specialise in gathering pollen for feeding their larvae, carried internally and regurgitated into a mud chamber prior to oviposition.

Many bee flies, and some Tabanidae and Nemestrinidae are particularly adapted to pollinating fynbos and Karoo plants with narrow, deep corolla tubes, such as Lapeirousia species. Part of the adaptation takes the form of remarkably long probosces.

Unidentified Scoliidae foraging 2012 02 26 3034s
Scoliid wasp foraging

Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) also pollinate plants to various degrees.[7] They are not major pollinators of food crops, but various moths are important pollinators of other commercial crops such as tobacco. Pollination by certain moths may be important, however, or even crucial, for some wildflowers mutually adapted to specialist pollinators. Spectacular examples include orchids such as Angraecum sesquipedale, dependant on a particular hawk moth, Morgan's sphinx. Yucca species provide other examples, being fertilised in elaborate ecological interactions with particular species of yucca moths.

Beetles of species that specialise in eating pollen, nectar, or flowers themselves, are important cross-pollinators of some plants such as members of the Araceae and Zamiaceae, that produce prodigious amounts of pollen. Others, for example the Hopliini, specialise in free-flowering species of the Asteraceae and Aizoaceae.

Various midges and thrips are comparatively minor opportunist pollinators. Ants also pollinate some kinds of flowers, but for the most part they are parasites, robbing nectar without conveying useful amounts of pollen to a stigma. Whole groups of plants, such as certain fynbos Moraea and Erica species produce flowers on sticky peduncles or with sticky corolla tubes that only permit access to flying pollinators, whether bird, bat, or insect.

Goudoogdaas zijaanzicht 2009 08 23
Tabanid fly on a thistle flower

Carrion flies and flesh flies in families such as Calliphoridae and Sarcophagidae are important for some species of plants whose flowers exude a fetid odor. The plants' ecological strategy varies; several species of Stapelia, for example, attract carrion flies that futilely lay their eggs on the flower, where their larvae promptly starve for lack of carrion. Other species do decay rapidly after ripening, and offer the visiting insects large masses of food, as well as pollen and sometimes seed to carry off when they leave.

Hoverflies are important pollinators of flowering plants worldwide.[8] Often hoverflies are considered to be the second most important pollinators after wild bees.[8] Although hoverflies as a whole are generally considered to be nonselective pollinators, some species have more specialized relationships. The orchid species Epipactis veratrifolia mimics alarm pheromones of aphids to attract hover flies for pollination.[9] Another plant, the slipper orchid in southwest China, also achieves pollination by deceit by exploiting the innate yellow colour preference of syrphide.[10]

Some male Bactrocera fruit flies are exclusive pollinators of some wild Bulbophyllum orchids that lack nectar and have a specific chemical attractant and reward (methyl eugenol, raspberry ketone or zingerone) present in their floral fragrances.[11][12][13]

Adult mosquitoes act as pollinators while they feed on nectar. Aedes communis, a species found in North America, is known to be pollinating the Platanthera obtusata, commonly referred as the blunt-leaved orchid.[14][15]

A strategy of great biological interest is that of sexual deception, where plants, generally orchids, produce remarkably complex combinations of pheromonal attractants and physical mimicry that induce male bees or wasps to attempt to mate with them, conveying pollinia in the process. Examples are known from all continents apart from Antarctica, though Australia appears to be exceptionally rich in examples.[16]

Some Diptera (flies) may be the main pollinators at higher elevations of mountains, whereas Bombus species are the only pollinators among Apoidea in alpine regions at timberline and beyond.

Other insect orders are rarely pollinators, and then typically only incidentally (e.g., Hemiptera such as Anthocoridae and Miridae).


Tacca chantrieri172799839
Tropical flowers like Tacca chantrieri are bat-pollinated.
Colibri thalassinus Curicancha 02
Green violetear with pollen on bill, Curi Cancha Wildlife Refuge, Costa Rica

Bats are important pollinators of some tropical flowers, visiting to take nectar.[17] Birds, particularly hummingbirds, honeyeaters and sunbirds also accomplish much pollination, especially of deep-throated flowers. Other vertebrates, such as kinkajous, monkeys, lemurs, possums, rodents and lizards[18] have been recorded pollinating some plants.

Humans can be pollinators, as many gardeners have discovered that they must hand pollinate garden vegetables, whether because of pollinator decline (as has been occurring in parts of the U.S. since the mid-20th century) or simply to keep a strain genetically pure. This can involve using a small brush or cotton swab to move pollen, or to simply tap or shake tomato blossoms to release the pollen for the self pollinating flowers. Tomato blossoms are self-fertile, but (with the exception of potato-leaf varieties) have the pollen inside the anther, and the flower requires shaking to release the pollen through pores. This can be done by wind, by humans, or by a sonicating bee (one that vibrates its wing muscles while perched on the flower), such as a bumblebee. Sonicating bees are extremely efficient pollinators of tomatoes, and colonies of bumblebees are quickly replacing humans as the primary pollinators for greenhouse tomatoes.

Pollinator population declines and conservation

Pollinators provide a key ecosystem service vital to the maintenance of both wild and agricultural plant communities. In 1999 the Convention on Biological Diversity issued the São Paulo Declaration on Pollinators, recognizing the critical role that these species play in supporting and maintaining terrestrial productivity as well as the survival challenges they face due to anthropogenic change. Today pollinators are considered to be in a state of decline;[19] some species, such as Franklin’s bumble bee (Bombus franklini) have been red-listed and are in danger of extinction. Although managed bee hives are increasing worldwide, these can not compensate for the loss of wild pollinators in many locations.

Declines in the health and population of pollinators pose what could be a significant threat to the integrity of biodiversity, to global food webs, and to human health. At least 80% of our world's crop species require pollination to set seed. An estimated one out of every three bites of food comes to us through the work of animal pollinators. The quality of pollinator service has declined over time and this had led to concerns that pollination will be less resistant to extinction in the future.


In recent times, environmental groups have put pressure on the Environmental Protection Agency to ban neonicotinoids, a type of insecticide. In May 2015, the Obama Administration released a strategy called National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators. The administration announced it would include input from the pesticide industry in putting together the initiative.[20]

The task force goal is "tackling and reducing the impact of multiple stressors on pollinator health, including pests and pathogens, reduced habitat, lack of nutritional resources, and exposure to pesticides."[21]

The EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture are leading the task force.[20]

The structure of plant-pollinator networks

Wild pollinators often visit a large number of plant species and plants are visited by a large number of pollinator species. All these relations together form a network of interactions between plants and pollinators. Surprising similarities were found in the structure of networks consisting out of the interactions between plants and pollinators. This structure was found to be similar in very different ecosystems on different continents, consisting of entirely different species.[22]

The structure of plant-pollinator networks may have large consequences for the way in which pollinator communities respond to increasingly harsh conditions. Mathematical models, examining the consequences of this network structure for the stability of pollinator communities suggest that the specific way in which plant-pollinator networks are organized minimizes competition between pollinators[23] and may even lead to strong indirect facilitation between pollinators when conditions are harsh.[24] This allows pollinator species to survive together under harsh conditions. But it also means that pollinator species collapse simultaneously when conditions pass a critical point. This simultaneous collapse occurs, because pollinator species depend on each other when surviving under difficult conditions.[24]

Such a community-wide collapse, involving many pollinator species, can occur suddenly when increasingly harsh conditions pass a critical point and recovery from such a collapse might not be easy. The improvement in conditions needed for pollinators to recover, could be substantially larger than the improvement needed to return to conditions at which the pollinator community collapsed.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Fægri, K. and L. van der Pijl. 1979. The principles of pollination ecology. Oxford: Pergamon.
  2. ^ Fulton M, Hodges SA. 1999. Floral isolation between Aquilegia formosa and A. pubescens. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, Series B 266: 2247–2252.
  3. ^ Hodges SA, Whittall JB, Fulton M, Yang JY. 2002. Genetics of floral traits influencing reproductive isolation between Aquilegia formosa and A. pubescens. American Naturalist 159: S51–S60.
  4. ^ Dennis Wm. Stevenson; Knut J. Norstog & Priscilla K.S. Fawcett (1998). "Pollination Biology Of Cycads". In S.J. Owens & P.J. Rudall (eds.). Reproductive Biology. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 9 December 2014.
  5. ^ Klein, Alexandra-Maria; Vaissière, Bernard E.; Cane, James H.; Steffan-Dewenter, Ingolf; Cunningham, Saul A.; Kremen, Claire; Tscharntke, Teja (7 February 2007). "Importance of pollinators in changing landscapes for world crops" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences. 274 (1608): 303–313. doi:10.1098/rspb.2006.3721. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 1702377. PMID 17164193.
  6. ^ Westbrook, Fred E.; Bergman, Paul W.; Wearne, Robert A. (1975). Pollination and the Honey Bee. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  7. ^ [1] Archived July 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ a b Larson, B.M.H.; Kevan, P.G.; Inouye, D. W. (2001). "Flies and flowers: taxonomic diversity of anthophiles and pollinators". Canadian Entomologist. 133 (4): 439–465. doi:10.4039/ent133439-4.
  9. ^ Stokl, Johannes; Brodmann; Dafni; Ayasse; Hansson (2011). "Smells like aphids: orchid flowers mimic aphid alarm pheromones to attract hoverflies for pollination". Proc. R. Soc. B. 278 (1709): 1216–1222. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.1770. PMC 3049078. PMID 20943694.
  10. ^ Shi, J.; Luo, Y.B.; Ran, J.C.; Liu, Z.J.; Zhou, Q. (2009). "Pollination by deceit in Paphiopedilum barbigerum (Orchidaceae): a staminode exploites innate colour preferences of hoverflies (Syrphidae)". Plant Biology. 11 (1): 17–28. doi:10.1111/j.1438-8677.2008.00120.x. PMID 19121110.
  11. ^ Tan, K.H., Nishida R. and Toong, Y.C. (2002) Bulbophyllum cheiri's floral synomone lures fruit flies to perform pollination. Journal of Chemical Ecology 28:1161-1172.
  12. ^ Tan, K.H.& R. Nishida. 2005. Synomone or Kairomone? - Bulbophyllum apertum (Orchidaceae) flower releases raspberry ketone to attract Bactrocera fruit flies. Journal of Chemical Ecology. 31(3): 509-519.
  13. ^ Tan, K.H.& R. Nishida. 2007. Zingerone in the floral synomone of Bulbophyllum baileyi (Orchidaceae) attracts Bactrocera fruit flies during pollination. Biochemical Systematics & Ecology 35: 334-341.
  14. ^ "Year of Pollination: Mosquitoes as Pollinators". awkward botany. 8 July 2015. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  15. ^ Statman-Weil, Zoe. "Aedes communis: The Pollinating Mosquito". United States Forest Service. Retrieved 28 July 2017.
  16. ^ Jim G. Mant, Florian P. Schiestl, Rod Peakall, Peter H. Weston. A Phylogenetic Study Of Pollinator Conservatism Among Sexually Deceptive Orchids. Evolution, 56(5), 2002, pp. 888-898
  17. ^ Stewart, Alyssa B.; Dudash, Michele R. (2018-01-01). "Foraging strategies of generalist and specialist Old World nectar bats in response to temporally variable floral resources". Biotropica. 50 (1): 98–105. doi:10.1111/btp.12492.
  18. ^ Olesen, J. M. & A. Valido. 2003. Lizards as pollinators and seed dispersers: an island phenomenon. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 18: 177–181.
  19. ^ "News - Communications - University of Canterbury - New Zealand". Comsdev.canterbury.ac.nz. 2012-03-23. Retrieved 2012-04-21.
  20. ^ a b "New U.S. pollinator strategy emphasizes science, industry collaboration". EPNewswire. 19 May 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  21. ^ "National Strategy to Promote the Health of Honey Bees and Other Pollinators" (PDF). The White House. 19 May 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 May 2015. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
  22. ^ Bascompte, J., Jordano, P., Melián, C. J., & Olesen, J. M. (2003). The nested assembly of plant–animal mutualistic networks. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 100(16), 9383-9387. : [2]
  23. ^ Bastolla, U., Fortuna, M. A., Pascual-García, A., Ferrera, A., Luque, B., & Bascompte, J. (2009). The architecture of mutualistic networks minimizes competition and increases biodiversity. Nature, 458(7241), 1018-1020. : [3]
  24. ^ a b c Lever, J. J., Nes, E. H., Scheffer, M., & Bascompte, J. (2014). The sudden collapse of pollinator communities. Ecology letters, 17(3), 350-359. : [4]


External links


The superfamily Apoidea is a major group within the Hymenoptera, which includes two traditionally recognized lineages, the "sphecoid" wasps, and the bees. Molecular phylogeny demonstrates that the bees arose from within the Crabronidae, so that grouping is paraphyletic, and has led to a reclassification to produce monophyletic families.


Cleistogamy is a type of automatic self-pollination of certain plants that can propagate by using non-opening, self-pollinating flowers. Especially well known in peanuts, peas, and pansy this behavior is most widespread in the grass family. However, the largest genus of cleistogamous plants is Viola.

The more common opposite of cleistogamy, or "closed marriage", is called chasmogamy, or "open marriage". Virtually all plants that produce cleistogamous flowers also produce chasmogamous ones. The principal advantage of cleistogamy is that it requires fewer plant resources to produce seeds than does chasmogamy, because development of petals, nectar and large amounts of pollen is not required. This efficiency makes cleistogamy particularly useful for seed production on unfavorable sites or adverse conditions. Impatiens capensis, for example, has been observed to produce only cleistogamous flowers after being severely damaged by grazing and to maintain populations on unfavorable sites with only cleistogamous flowers. The obvious disadvantage of cleistogamy is that self-fertilization occurs, which may suppress the creation of genetically superior plants.For genetically modified (GM) rapeseed, researchers hoping to minimise the admixture of GM and non-GM crops are attempting to use cleistogamy to prevent gene flow. However, preliminary results from Co-Extra, a current project within the EU research program, show that although cleistogamy reduces gene flow, it is not at the moment a consistently reliable tool for biocontainment; due to a certain instability of the cleistogamous trait, some flowers may open and release genetically modified pollen.

Discovery (apple)

'Discovery' is an early season dessert apple cultivar. One of its parents was the 'Worcester Pearmain', with the pollinator thought to possibly be 'Beauty of Bath'.


A flower, sometimes known as a bloom or blossom, is the reproductive structure found in flowering plants (plants of the division Magnoliophyta, also called angiosperms). The biological function of a flower is to effect reproduction, usually by providing a mechanism for the union of sperm with eggs. Flowers may facilitate outcrossing (fusion of sperm and eggs from different individuals in a population) or allow selfing (fusion of sperm and egg from the same flower). Some flowers produce diaspores without fertilization (parthenocarpy). Flowers contain sporangia and are the site where gametophytes develop. Many flowers have evolved to be attractive to animals, so as to cause them to be vectors for the transfer of pollen. After fertilization, the ovary of the flower develops into fruit containing seeds.

In addition to facilitating the reproduction of flowering plants, flowers have long been admired and used by humans to bring beauty to their environment, and also as objects of romance, ritual, religion, medicine and as a source of food.

Fruit tree pollination

Pollination of fruit trees is required to produce seeds with surrounding fruit. It is the process of moving pollen from the anther to the stigma, either in the same flower or in another flower. Some tree species, including many fruit trees, do not produce fruit from self-pollination, so pollinizer trees are planted in orchards.

The pollination process requires a carrier for the pollen, which can be animal, wind, or human intervention (by hand-pollination or by using a pollen sprayer). Cross pollination produces seeds with a different genetic makeup from the parent plants; such seeds may be created deliberately as part of a selective breeding program for fruit trees with desired attributes. Trees that are cross-pollinated or pollinated via an insect pollinator produce more fruit than trees with flowers that just self-pollinate. In fruit trees, bees are an essential part of the pollination process for the formation of fruit.Pollination of fruit trees around the world has been highly studied for hundreds of years. There is a lot of information known about fruit tree pollination from temperate climates, but much less is known about fruit tree pollination from tropical climates. Fruits from temperate climates include apples, pears, plums, peaches, cherries, berries, grapes, and nuts which are considered dry fruits. Fruits from tropical climates include bananas, pineapples, papayas, passion fruit, avocado, mango, and members of the genus Citrus.


Hand pollination, also known as mechanical pollination is a technique that can be used to pollinate plants when natural or open pollination is either undesirable or insufficient. This method of pollination is done by manually transferring pollen from the stamen of one plant to the pistil of another. This is often done with a cotton swab or small brush, but can also be done by removing the petals from a male flower and brushing it against the stigmas of female flowers, or by simply shaking flowers in the case of bisexual flowers, such as tomatoes. Common reasons for choosing this method include the lack of pollinators, keeping control of cross-pollination between varieties grown together, and creating specific hybrids. Examples of this are vanilla plants, which are transported to areas where its natural pollinator doesn't exist, or plants grown in greenhouses, urban areas, or with a cover to control pests, where natural pollinators cannot reach them. Pollinator decline and the concentrated pollination needs of monoculture can also be a factor. However, these are not the only reasons, and variable techniques for hand-pollination have arisen for many specialty crops. For instance, hand-pollination is used with date palms to avoid wasting space and energy growing sufficient male plants for adequate natural pollination. Because of the level of labor involved, hand-pollination is only an option on a small scale, used chiefly by small market gardeners and owners of individual plants. On large-scale operations, such as field crops, orchards, or commercial seed production, honeybees or other pollinators are a more efficient approach to pollination management. Despite this, hand-pollination is a fairly widespread practice. Pears grown in Hanyuan County, China have been hand-pollinated since the 1980s, because they can't be pollinated with other varieties that have different flowering times; also, lice infestation requires the use of many insecticide sprays, which causes local beekeepers to refuse to lend beehives.


Hoverflies, sometimes called flower flies, or syrphid flies, make up the insect family Syrphidae. As their common name suggests, they are often seen hovering or nectaring at flowers; the adults of many species feed mainly on nectar and pollen, while the larvae (maggots) eat a wide range of foods. In some species, the larvae are saprotrophs, eating decaying plant and animal matter in the soil or in ponds and streams. In other species, the larvae are insectivores and prey on aphids, thrips, and other plant-sucking insects.

Aphids alone cause tens of millions of dollars of damage to crops worldwide every year; because of this, aphid-eating hoverflies are being recognized as important natural enemies of pests, and potential agents for use in biological control. Some adult syrphid flies are important pollinators.

About 6,000 species in 200 genera have been described. Hoverflies are common throughout the world and can be found on all continents except Antarctica. Hoverflies are harmless to most other animals, despite their mimicry of more dangerous wasps and bees, which wards off predators.


Midge is a term used to refer to many species of small flies. The term "midge" does not define any particular taxonomic group, but includes species in several families of non-mosquito Nematoceran Diptera. They are found (seasonally or otherwise) on practically every land area outside permanently arid deserts and the frigid zones. Some midges, such as many Phlebotominae (sand fly) and Simuliidae (black fly), are vectors of various diseases. Many others play useful roles as prey items for insectivores, such as various frogs and swallows. Others are important as detritivores, participating in various nutrient cycles. The habits of midges vary greatly from species to species, though within any particular family, midges commonly have similar ecological roles.

Examples of families that include species of midges include:

Blephariceridae, net-winged midges

Cecidomyiidae, gall midges

Ceratopogonidae, biting midges (also known as no-see-ums or punkies in North America, and sandflies in Australia)

Chaoboridae, phantom midges

Chironomidae, non-biting midges (also known as muckleheads or muffleheads in the Great Lakes region of North America)

Deuterophlebiidae, mountain midges

Dixidae, meniscus midges

Scatopsidae, dung midges

Theumaleidae, solitary midges


Moths comprise a group of insects related to butterflies, belonging to the order Lepidoptera. Most lepidopterans are moths, and there are thought to be approximately 160,000 species of moth, many of which have yet to be described. Most species of moth are nocturnal, but there are also crepuscular and diurnal species.

Mutualism (biology)

Mutualism describes the ecological interaction between two or more species where each species benefits. Mutualism is thought to be the most common type of ecological interaction, and it is often dominant in most communities worldwide. Prominent examples include most vascular plants engaged in mutualistic interactions with mycorrhizae, flowering plants being pollinated by animals, vascular plants being dispersed by animals, and corals with zooxanthellae, among many others. Mutualism can be contrasted with interspecific competition, in which each species experiences reduced fitness, and exploitation, or parasitism, in which one species benefits at the "expense" of the other.

Mutualism is often conflated with two other types of ecological phenomena: cooperation and symbiosis. Cooperation refers to increases in fitness through within-species (intraspecific) interactions. Symbiosis involves two species living in close proximity and may be mutualistic, parasitic, or commensal, so symbiotic relationships are not always mutualistic.

Mutualism plays a key part in ecology. For example, mutualistic interactions are vital for terrestrial ecosystem function as more than 48% of land plants rely on mycorrhizal relationships with fungi to provide them with inorganic compounds and trace elements. As another example, the estimate of tropical forest trees with seed dispersal mutualisms with animals ranges from 70–90%. In addition, mutualism is thought to have driven the evolution of much of the biological diversity we see, such as flower forms (important for pollination mutualisms) and co-evolution between groups of species. However, mutualism has historically received less attention than other interactions such as predation and parasitism.The term mutualism was introduced by Pierre-Joseph van Beneden in his 1876 book Animal Parasites and Messmates.


Pollination is the transfer of pollen from a male part of a plant to a female part of a plant, later enabling fertilisation and the production of seeds, most often by an animal or by wind. Pollinating agents are animals such as insects, birds, and bats; water; wind; and even plants themselves, when self-pollination occurs within a closed flower. Pollination often occurs within a species. When pollination occurs between species it can produce hybrid offspring in nature and in plant breeding work.

In angiosperms, after the pollen grain has landed on the stigma, it develops a pollen tube which grows down the style until it reaches an ovary. Sperm cells from the pollen grain then move along the pollen tube, enter an ovum cell through the micropyle and fertilise it, resulting in the production of a seed.

A successful angiosperm pollen grain (gametophyte) containing the male gametes is transported to the stigma, where it germinates and its pollen tube grows down the style to the ovary. Its two gametes travel down the tube to where the gametophyte(s) containing the female gametes are held within the carpel. One nucleus fuses with the polar bodies to produce the endosperm tissues, and the other with the ovule to produce the embryo Hence the term: "double fertilization".

In gymnosperms, the ovule is not contained in a carpel, but exposed on the surface of a dedicated support organ, such as the scale of a cone, so that the penetration of carpel tissue is unnecessary. Details of the process vary according to the division of gymnosperms in question. Two main modes of fertilization are found in gymnosperms. Cycads and Ginkgo have motile sperm that swim directly to the egg inside the ovule, whereas conifers and gnetophytes have sperm that are unable to swim but are conveyed to the egg along a pollen tube.

The study of pollination brings together many disciplines, such as botany, horticulture, entomology, and ecology. The pollination process as an interaction between flower and pollen vector was first addressed in the 18th century by Christian Konrad Sprengel. It is important in horticulture and agriculture, because fruiting is dependent on fertilization: the result of pollination. The study of pollination by insects is known as anthecology.

Pollinator (album)

Pollinator is the eleventh studio album by the American rock band Blondie, released on May 5, 2017 by BMG Rights Management.

Pollinator decline

Pollinator decline refers to the reduction in abundance of insect and other animal pollinators in many ecosystems worldwide, beginning at the end of the 20th century, and continuing into the present.Pollinators participate in the sexual reproduction of many plants, by ensuring cross-pollination, essential for some species and a major factor in ensuring genetic diversity for others. Since plants are the primary food source for animals, the reduction or possible disappearance of primary pollination agents has been referred to as "ecological Armageddon', due to the dire nature of the consequences to world food production.

The exact magnitude of the problem is the source of robust ongoing debate, and it is fair to say that most, but not all, data comes from honeybees and bumblebees in Europe and North America. Some species are doing better than others, some are stable, and some are even increasing, such as managed honey bee colonies. But most evidence points towards "significant declines in pollinator abundance and diversity at multiple spatial scales across all regions".Probable explanations for the decline in pollinators can be attributed to the use of pesticides, diseases, habitat destruction, air pollution, climate change, the effects of monoculture (especially in regards to bees), and competition between native and introduced or invasive species.

Pollinator garden

A pollinator garden is planted and designed, with specific nectar and pollen producing plants, in a way that attracts pollinating insects known as pollinators. In order for a garden to be considered a pollinator garden, it should provide (but not limited to) the following: various nectar producing flowers, shelter or shelter providing plants for pollinators, avoid the use of pesticides, and place similar flowers close to one another.

Soldier beetle

The soldier beetles (Cantharidae) are relatively soft-bodied, straight-sided beetles. They are cosmopolitan in distribution. One of the first described species has a color pattern reminiscent of the red coats of early British soldiers, hence the common name. They are also known commonly as leatherwings because of their soft elytra.Historically, these beetles were placed in a superfamily "Cantharoidea", which has been subsumed by the superfamily Elateroidea; the name is still sometimes used as a rankless grouping, including the families Cantharidae, Drilidae, Lampyridae, Lycidae, Omalisidae, Omethidae, Phengodidae (which includes Telegeusidae), and Rhagophthalmidae.


The Sphingidae are a family of moths (Lepidoptera), commonly known as hawk moths, sphinx moths, and hornworms; it includes about 1,450 species. It is best represented in the tropics, but species are found in every region. They are moderate to large in size and are distinguished among moths for their rapid, sustained flying ability. Their narrow wings and streamlined abdomens are adaptations for rapid flight. The family was named by French zoologist Pierre André Latreille in 1802.

Some hawk moths, such as the hummingbird hawk-moth or the white-lined sphinx, hover in midair while they feed on nectar from flowers, so are sometimes mistaken for hummingbirds. This hovering capability is only known to have evolved four times in nectar feeders: in hummingbirds, certain bats, hoverflies, and these sphingids (an example of convergent evolution). Sphingids have been much studied for their flying ability, especially their ability to move rapidly from side to side while hovering, called "swing-hovering" or "side-slipping". This is thought to have evolved to deal with ambush predators that lie in wait in flowers.Sphingids are some of the faster flying insects; some are capable of flying at over 5.3 m/s (12 miles per hour). They have wingspans from 4 to over 10 cm (3.9 in).


The Tachinidae are a large and variable family of true flies within the insect order Diptera, with more than 8,200 known species and many more to be discovered. Over 1300 species have been described in North America alone. Insects in this family commonly are called tachinid flies or simply tachinids. As far as is known, they all are protelean parasitoids, or occasionally parasites, of arthropods, usually other insects. The family is known from many habitats in all zoogeographical regions and is especially diverse in South America.

The Pollinator Pathway

The Pollinator Pathway is a participatory art, design and ecology social sculpture initiative founded by the artist and designer Sarah Bergmann. Its objective is to connect existing isolated green spaces and create a more hospitable urban environment for pollinators like bees with a system of ecological corridors of flowering plants by using existing urban infrastructure such as curb space and rooftops.


A wasp is any insect of the order Hymenoptera and suborder Apocrita that is neither a bee nor an ant. The Apocrita have a common evolutionary ancestor and form a clade; wasps as a group do not form a clade, but are paraphyletic with respect to bees and ants.

The most commonly known wasps, such as yellowjackets and hornets, are in the family Vespidae and are eusocial, living together in a nest with an egg-laying queen and non-reproducing workers. Eusociality is favoured by the unusual haplodiploid system of sex determination in Hymenoptera, as it makes sisters exceptionally closely related to each other. However, the majority of wasp species are solitary, with each adult female living and breeding independently. Females typically have an ovipositor for laying eggs in or near a food source for the larvae, though in the Aculeata the ovipositor is often modified instead into a sting used for defense or prey capture. Wasps play many ecological roles. Some are predators or pollinators, whether to feed themselves or to provision their nests. Many, notably the cuckoo wasps, are kleptoparasites, laying eggs in the nests of other wasps. Many of the solitary wasps are parasitoidal, meaning they lay eggs on or in other insects (any life stage from egg to adult) and often provision their own nests with such hosts. Unlike true parasites, the wasp larvae eventually kill their hosts. Solitary wasps parasitize almost every pest insect, making wasps valuable in horticulture for biological pest control of species such as whitefly in tomatoes and other crops.

Wasps first appeared in the fossil record in the Jurassic, and diversified into many surviving superfamilies by the Cretaceous. They are a successful and diverse group of insects with tens of thousands of described species; wasps have spread to all parts of the world except for the polar regions. The largest social wasp is the Asian giant hornet, at up to 5 centimetres (2.0 in) in length; among the largest solitary wasps is a group of species known as tarantula hawks, along with the giant scoliid of Indonesia (Megascolia procer). The smallest wasps are solitary chalcid wasps in the family Mymaridae, including the world's smallest known insect, with a body length of only 0.139 mm (0.0055 in), and the smallest known flying insect, only 0.15 mm (0.0059 in) long.

Wasps have appeared in literature from Classical times, as the eponymous chorus of old men in Aristophanes' 422 BC comedy Σφῆκες (Sphēkes), The Wasps, and in science fiction from H. G. Wells's 1904 novel The Food of the Gods and How It Came to Earth, featuring giant wasps with three-inch-long stings. The name "Wasp" has been used for many warships and other military equipment.

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