Monday, June 20, 2011

Pollination Celebration

Critters are pollinating the heck out of the garden. Every flower seems to harbor a bee, beetle, or fly, and every time Luna sticks her nose into a plant, something flies out in a panic and she jumps back in surprise.

I'm not a pollinator, of course, but pollination has been much on my mind of late because I've been working simultaneously on two writing projects involving insects. So I am primed to spout statistics such as "about 75 percent of flowering plants rely on animal pollinators in order to set seed."  (I am also popping Benadryl tablets with frequency as pollen from wind-pollinated grasses ends up in my nasal passages instead of on grass flowers, much to my and the flowers' dismay.)

Here is a concatenation of snaps of pollination on our plantation being done with determination by a conglomeration of invertebration:
African daisy, with pollen splatter after rainfall
A species of bumble bee lolling around drunkenly inside a rhododendron blossom.

This beetle is, I think, a 20-spotted Lady Beetle, Psyllobora vigintimaculata. I haven't had any luck
deciphering the first part of this scientific name, but the latter translates, somewhat disappointingly, to merely "twenty spotted." Beetles are not as efficient as bees at pollinating but some flowers lure them specifically. This one is on a sedum flower and is well camouflaged incidentally by all those anthers. These lady beetles feed on fungi, not aphids. Its mandibles are lined with comblike small "teeth" for raking fungus and fungal spores from plant surfaces. This species is found throughout the United States and into Canada and Mexico.
The all-time pollination champion, the honey bee.
(At least I'm pretty sure it's a honey bee.)
Nectar guides, lines that point the way to where
nectar is stored in flowers such as the pansy