Early Pollinators

It is Spring Break at Purdue and those who are still in town are treated to nice weather, with highs in the low 60s (F, 15-18 C). The first burst of warm weather and the Spring photo periods bring forth the cold-hardy flowers such as crocuses, among the first bulbs to display their color against the dark browns and grays of winter. The warm weather also brings out the flies, many of which overwinter as adults. As the weather warms they become active and search for food.

In the picture below we see an adult fly with its mouthparts lowered sampling the petals of a crocus. The fly carries pollen on its hairs and is an important early season pollinator.

Other pollinators that start to become active are the honey bees who have spent the winter huddling in their hives. This worker has found a patch of crocus in bloom. The worker will return to its hive and communicate the source of food to its nest mates.

Left: A fly samples the petals of a crocus
Right: A honey bee collects pollen from a crocus

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is a retired Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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