Plant-Insect Interaction: Ants, bees, and common dandelions

dandelionants

Ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae) collecting pollen and nectar from a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae). Photographed 05/05/2013 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

Although common dandelions (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae) are so abundant they’re usually considered weeds, they do have some benefit. In colder climates they’re among the first plants to flower, making them an important source of pollen and nectar for newly-emerging ants (HymenopteraFormicidae) and bees (Hymenoptera: Anthophila).

dandelionbee1

Bee (Hymenoptera: Anthophila) collecting pollen and nectar from a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae). Photographed 05/05/2013 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

In addition to the opportunistic foraging by ants and bees, dandelions are the preferred food for the caterpillars of many moth species.

dandelionbee2

Bee and ants collecting pollen and nectar from a common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale, Asteraceae). Photographed 05/05/2013 at Pinckney State Recreation Area near Chelsea, Michigan.

While insects do provide some pollination for these plants, dandelions primarily reproduce through apomixis and don’t require fertilization. The seeds are usually formed asexually, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent.

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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.

2 Responses to Plant-Insect Interaction: Ants, bees, and common dandelions

  1. We have plenty of dandelions just to help pollinators… Michelle

    Like

  2. Jenny Campos says:

    In my garden I find that that when I pull up a dandelion plant, however small, I disturb ants. In some way the ants and dandelions go together. I know the theory is aphids but these plants appear aphid free.

    Like

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