Thursday, August 12, 2010

Who is pollinating whom?

The past few weeks I have been watch may new plants to see what kind of pollinators they attract. Since most of these plants are new to the local area, they may not be normal fare for the local insects. It is quite likely that a plant that attracts many pollinator on its home turf, will be of little interest in a different region of the country.

 What I have seen so far is a mix of results. The Indian Blanket, Gaillardia pulchella, is a long way from its native range up here in Boston, but is quite popular with the native bumblebees. The beautiful bright red Drummond Phlox, Phlox drummondii, which is equally far from home, has had no visits from pollinators that I have seen.

Here are some photos of some of the insect pollinators that I have spied in the past 2 weeks. Somewhat disappointing to me is that other than a few cabbage moths, I can't recall having have seen any butterflies in my yard this year, save for one Firey Skipper.
These wasps really surprised me, both by their size (nearly 2”) and their excitement over the Spotted Beebalm, Monarda punctata. For the first few days of bloom there was no activity around these plants but now they are rarely without a wasp or two.

This Agastache did not appear to be getting much attention, then I realized that the insects were taking a short-cut to the nectar by feeding at the calyx tube at the base of the flower, rather than crawling down the long flower tube.

I have not noticed these Long-horned bees in past years. They really like the Coast Sunflower, Helianthus debilis, and Black-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia hirta, shown here.  These bees are hairier than many others and can get totally covered with pollen.


Hoverflys, shown here approaching the Red-Whiskered Clammyweed, Polanisia dedecandra, visit many of the smaller flowered plants, including American False Pennyroyal, Hedeoma pulegioides, and Snow-on-the-Mountain, Euphorbia marginata.

This Drone Fly, not a true bee, blends in quite well with the color scheme of the Orange Coneflower, Rudbeckia fulgida. 

The Green Bee, shown below, is kind of flashy when the sun catches it.

I must admit that I really don’t know bugs that well and I may not be entirely correct in the ID’s I have provided. I have been very favorably impressed with the information and photos at the Bug Guide and would recommend it are a great place to get started to ID insects.


. . . Lisa and Robb . . . said...

Wonderful bee (and bee mimick) photos!

Thanks for sharing.

joene said...

So sorry you are not enjoying the butterfly ballet I have at my phlox and buddleia. Watching the butterflies has been one of our favorite pasttimes this summer. You have many beautiful flowers that I don't, though, so I really enjoy your photos.

Curbstone Valley Farm said...

It is a lot of fun watching the pollinators in the garden. You've photographed a wonderful assortment! Identifying them can be challenging, but that's part of the fun I think. What has interested me this year is noting which native pollinators 'make do' with some of our non-native and invasive blooms. This morning I spent over an hour watching dozens of Mylitta Crescent butterflies here dancing around on our invasive hedge parsley. I've never seen so many! I suppose at a time when most of our natives are finished blooming for the season, they make do with what's available.