This time of year I frequently find lady beetles (family Coccinellidae) crawling around on a variety of flowers. It seems that they’re eating pollen, but I can’t be sure. They’re normally considered predaceous, with the adults and larvae feeding primarily on tiny soft-bodied insects like aphids (Triplehorn and Johnson 2005). Such prey may be present on these flowers, but I haven’t seen them. I suspect the pollen itself may be a convenient and nutritious side dish for these predators.
Regardless of what these beetles are doing on these flowers, they apparently didn’t get the memo about the harm caused by invasive garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata, Brassicaceae). They’re unwittingly helping to pollinate these plants, aiding in their reproduction.
Triplehorn, C.A. and N.F. Johnson. 2005. Borror and DeLong’s Introduction to the Study of Insects. Seventh Edition. Thomson Brooks/Cole, Belmont, CA.