Many wild plants and food crops depend on pollinators to help them reproduce. Though small, pollinators are an important part of our ecosystems.
Pollinators play an important role in ecosystems and agriculture. As insects move from plant to plant they transfer pollen on their bodies, allowing plants to reproduce. Some other animals such as hummingbirds also help to pollinate plants.
Many food crops are either entirely dependent or heavily dependent on insect pollination, including:
Without pollinators, we would not be able to enjoy many of these foods.
The presence of a wide diversity of pollinators is also beneficial for wild plants in the park, as it increases their chances of reproducing. Through a variety of flower shapes, colours and scents, plants are able to attract a wide diversity of pollinators. Flat flowers with landing platforms (e.g. asters) can be pollinated by a variety of insects, while bell-shaped flowers (e.g. columbines and lilies) require pollinators with longer tongues, such as butterflies. Different colours also attract different pollinators. Bees and flies are more attracted to blue and purple flowers, while butterflies are attracted to yellow, red, and orange flowers. Scents are also important to attract insects, particularly at night.
Insect pollinators are a diverse group and include more than just bees – flies, beetles, pollen wasps, butterflies and moths also play a large role in pollinating flowers. A group of flies known as hoverflies (or flower flies) is the second most important group of insect pollinators after bees. Hoverflies often look like bees or wasps, with a striped black and yellow abdomen intended to fool hungry predators into thinking they are dangerous. Great spots to see pollinators in action include open fields with lots of wildflowers, such the Vista Trail meadows, the Bob Hunter area, or the northern end of Mast Trail by the Twyn Rivers parking lot.