Tuesday 13 March 2012

Unexpected pollinators

One of my spurge plants is in full bloom now. Spurges have complex flowers with exposed nectaries, which are available to insects lacking a long tongue, although they appear not to be very appealing to bees and butterflies. They attract bluebottles, hoverflies, ladybirds and wasps. Later in the season they will be taken over by ants, which will defend them aggressively from competitors. In the last few days, dozens of 7 spot ladybirds have been enjoying this early nectar, in the company of bluebottles and hoverflies. They pay back the plant by acting as its pollinators. Some of the ladybirds were covered in pollen and the one on top seems to be pushing up the plant pistil, so the anatomy of the plant is right for ladybirds to act as pollinators
This 7 spot ladybird, from 2/04/11 was laden with spurge pollen
Bluebottle enjoying the nectar
More 7 spots on the flowers, and possibly a harlequin
A little hoverfly, Meliscaeva auricollis


Wildgardener said...

Interesting post - I love your blog, it's a real education.

Africa Gomez said...

Thank you Wildgardener! I am glad you like BugBlog and thank you for commenting, much appreciated.