Plant-Insect Interaction: Several pollinators of Virginia spring beauty

When I wrote about spring ephemerals a few weeks ago, I mentioned that these flowering plants attract a wide variety of insect pollinators.  Recently I’ve seen many insects pollinating Virginia spring beauties (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae).  Here are some of those insects:

Unknown bee (superfamily Apoidea) on a Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae). Photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

The most important pollinators may be the bees (superfamily Apoidea).  These insects collect nectar for food, and pollen to feed their larvae.

Unknown bee (superfamily Apoidea) on a Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae). Photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Ants (family Formicidae) are also important pollinators:

Unknown ant (family Formicidae) on a Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae). Photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

Some beetles (order Coleoptera) perform pollination.  I noticed quite a few lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) crawling around on the flowers:

Lady beetle (family Coccinellidae) on a Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae). Photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

A large number of flies (order Diptera) enjoy sugary nectar:

Unknown fly (order Diptera) on a Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae). Photographed 04/25/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

One family of flies known as common midges (family Chironomidae) have adults that may feed 0n nectar.  Many, however, do not feed at all.  Their adult forms exist solely for reproduction.  The individual below seemed more interested in finding a mate than eating, but her presence on the flowers could inadvertently spread pollen.

Common midge (family Chironomidae) on a Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica, Portulacaceae). Photographed 04/29/2011 near Blissfield Michigan.

I found all of these insects in a span of only about fifteen minutes.  I imagine these flowers, as well as other spring ephemerals, attract many more insects than I observed in this short time.

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About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Entomology, Organism Interactions and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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