Who Are Our Pollinators?
Along with bees, pollinators can include birds, bats, butterflies, moths, flies, beetles, wasps, and small mammals. A pollinator can be any animal that visits flowers to drink nectar or feed off of pollen and ends up transporting or moving pollen grains elsewhere.
Bright, sweet-smelling flowers attract pollinators. which feed on the nectar produced by these flowers, brushing up against the flower's pollen. When the pollinator moves on to another flower, it takes the pollen with it, transporting it to where it needs to be (the part of a plant called a stigma) in order for the plant to reproduce, to produce seeds and fruits .
Why Are Pollinators Important?
Pollinators are essential to our daily life. They are responsible for bringing us one out of every three bites of food. Pollinators also sustain our ecosystems and produce our natural resources by helping plants reproduce.
Pollinating animals travel from plant to plant carrying pollen on their bodies in a vital interaction that allows the transfer of genetic material critical to the reproductive system of most flowering plants – the very plants that
- bring us countless fruits, vegetables, and nuts,
- produce ½ of the world’s oils, fibers and raw materials;
- prevent soil erosion,
- increase carbon sequestration
For more detailed information on the process of pollination click here.
According to Pollinator Partnership, "Somewhere between 75% and 95% of all flowering plants on the earth need help with pollination – they need pollinators. Pollinators provide pollination services to over 180,000 different plant species and more than 1200 crops. If we want to talk dollars and cents, pollinators add 217 billion dollars to the global economy, and honey bees alone are responsible for between 1.2 and 5.4 billion dollars in agricultural productivity in the United States. In addition to the food that we eat, pollinators support healthy ecosystems that clean the air, stabilize soils, protect from severe weather, and support other wildlife."
These are just some of the foods we would lose if pollinators were to disappear:
- Tree fruits such as apples, peaches, apricots, plums, lemons, limes and cherries
- Bananas, melons, mangos and papaya
- Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, elderberries, blackberries, raspberries and cranberries
- Almonds, cashews and coconut
- Bean varieties such as green beans, adzuki, kidney and lima beans
- Tea plants
- Sunflower and sesame oils
- Grapes (and, therefore, wine!)
- Cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, turnips and Brussels sprouts
- Beetroot, pumpkin