Nature Notes

Vol. XIV June - 1936 No. 2

Natural Agents of Cross Pollination

Everyone is familiar with the cross pollinating activities of the bee. At Paradise, where these studies were carried on, the honey bee does not occur in any great numbers. The observer in the field is confronted very early in his observations with the fact that not all pollinators are bees, or even hymenoptera. Flies and even beetles have been caught in the act of carrying pollen from flower to flower, while the pollination carried on by the butterflies is considerable.

Bees are regarded by most people as the insects best fitted for carrying on cross-pollination. Their life habits -- visting the flowers to gather nectar and pollen -- makes cross-pollination of the flowers visited almost a certainty. Although flies do not gather pollen, many of them gather nectar from the flowers and in so doing, carry pollen from one to another. As a rule, male butterflies do not feed. The females of a necessity must find the food plant of the larva upon which to oviposit. They are fitted by long sucking mouth parts (proboscis) for the extraction of nectar from flowers. In the act of feeding upon flowers, butterflies carry out a minor role in cross-pollination. The insects of Mount Rainier National Park that play a part in flower pollination will be published in the next issue of Nature Notes.

Wayne Durston
Ranger-naturalist, 1935

sketch of butterfly

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