Importance and Types of Pollinators – Did You Know?

Importance and Types of Pollinators – Did You Know?

Do you enjoy a tasty bowl of fruit in the morning? Or maybe a hot steaming cup of coffee? If the answer is yes, then raise (or tip) your hat to our pollinators. About 75% of food crops depend on pollination to some extent, but pollinators provide the bulk of the pollination for over 80% of the world’s flowering plants. A pollinator can be birds, bats, or even small mammals but, insects such as ants, bees, beetles, wasps, butterflies, and moths do the bulk of the pollination that affects our daily lives.

Plants normally benefits from attracting a particular type of pollinator to their flowers, ensuring transfer and hopefully resulting in reproduction. The pollinator benefits from its adaptation of a particular flower with different traits to access nectar and pollen. These floral traits include odor, color, size, flower shape, reward type, amount, nectar composition, and timing of flowering. This plant pollinator interaction is known as pollination syndrome.

Did you know ­–

  • That tubular red flowers with a lot of nectar often attract birds.
  • Also, foul smelling flowers attract carrion flies or beetles.
  • Butterflies and moths can help spread pollen; however, they don’t have any specialized structures for collecting pollen.
  • Beetles pollinate more than 80% of all flowers – clusters of flowers are ideal because beetles are clumsy fliers.
  • While bees are drawn to plants on the blue, white, purple, and yellow color spectrum. Bees possessing hairs and other specialized anatomical structures that can readily collect and transfer pollen, making them an important plant pollinator. However, the honey bee, (Apis spp.) is the world’s top pollinator and is responsible for one-third of what we eat, yet they are just a small representative of all the bee species.
UF/IFAS Photo: Rodger Evans
Honey bee on Sweet Alyssum.
FAMU/UF/IFAS Photo: Donna Arnold

Did you Know-

Everyone can contribute to pollinators by creating a home garden. Pollinators will make use of food and habitat anywhere it is found – roadsides, open fields, pastures, backyard flower gardens etc. One can be pollinator friendly by doing any of the activities below:

  • Plant an assortment of plants – varying in color, size and type to support a greater number and diversity of pollinators. 
  • Plant native plants – as they are considered the best choice due to their abundance of nectar and pollen, among other benefits.
  • Use little or no pesticides – instead maintain a sustainable garden with the suitable plant species that will support natural beneficial insects—reducing the need for pest control.
  • Educate others about the importance of pollinators.
  • Seasonal planting – Choose pollinator plants that bloom in spring, summer, and fall. Timing is crucial – plant flowers in clumps that bloom in early spring (emerging winter hibernation) and late summer (preparing for hibernation) so bees have adequate food supply.
  • Provide habitat or install bat boxes. Bats play a vital role in pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds.
UF/IFAS Photo: Tyler Jones

Helpful Hint: Did you know dandelions are the first food for bees emerging in the spring. Leave them in your yard and feed the bees!

For more information, please contact your local county extension office or visit the following websites: Pollination – UF/IFAS Extension (; WEC247/UW291: Conservation of Bats in Florida (;;; and

Home Invasion – Asian Lady Beetle or Seven Spotted Lady Beetle

Home Invasion – Asian Lady Beetle or Seven Spotted Lady Beetle

What is taking over my dwelling?

The Multicolored Asian lady beetle (Harmonia axyridis) was introduced from Asia and intentionally and quickly established itself over the entire United States.

A Comparison 

The Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle (MALB) adults can be distinguished from other lady beetle species by a pair of white, oval markings behind the head that form a black M-shaped pattern.  Most adults have nineteen black spots on their forewings, but variability is common and spots may be missing. Adult MALBs consist of several color patterns (morphs), varying from solid orange to red with black spots.

This species is often mistaken for the seven spotted lady beetle (Coccinella septempunctata), which was introduced from Europe. Both species are usually found feeding on the same insect host and plants.

Both species tend to overwinter in large numbers. However, the Seven Spotted Lady Beetle overwinters under rocks, abandoned shrubs and forest edges. In contrast, the MALB is attracted to light and often aggregate and overwinter in dwellings, entering through cracks or crevices.

Due to the onset of winter and scarcity of food, MALB is more noticeable November to January in north Florida. As a result, they are a nuisance during the flight period, aggregating in walls and other parts of dwellings.

Once they enter your dwelling and experience warmth, they fly around and annoyance progresses. They produce a yellow, viscous, foul-smelling defensive substance when disturbed. The defensive substance usually leaves spots on furniture and the foul odor lingers in the air.

The solution

  • Seal building or caulked entry point to prevent infestation.
  • If beetles get inside your dwelling, a black light trap can be used.
  • Vacuum cleaners can be used to remove them, though, while effective, it will result in some spotting and foul odor.

In conclusion, though a nuisance, lady beetles are considered to be valuable natural enemies and should be tolerated and conserved when possible.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publications:  

EENY204/IN361: Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle, Harmonia axyridis Pallas (Insecta: Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) ( and EENY170/IN327: Ladybirds, Ladybird beetles, Lady Beetles, Ladybugs of Florida, Coleoptera: Coccinellidae (

Friend or Foe – Horned Passalus beetle

Friend or Foe – Horned Passalus beetle

Have you ever been strolling through your garden and decide to rearrange or remove a log? You might be amazed or intimidated by the sight of a dark shiny creature with large mandibles (mouth parts).  But don’t be alarmed- it is the Horned Passalus, Odontotaenius disjunctus.  This beetle also is known by many other common names including the Betsy Beetle, Bess Bug, Patent Leather Beetle, Jerusalem Beetle, Horn Beetle, and Peg Beetle.  

This beetle is a widely distributed from mid-Florida to Massachusetts, Southern Texas to Minnesota, and Nebraska.  Beetles are easily recognized due to their large size, ranging between 30 and 40 mm (1.2 and 1.6 inches) in length. They are known to have pre-social activities, where both males and females perform the same duties of processing decaying wood and protecting larvae.

Friend or foe?

Horned Passalus Beetles are beneficial decomposers of decaying wood or logs, often found in large numbers to efficiently complete the task!  However, they are medically harmless and not considered a pest of urban structures. Horned passalus beetles are considered to be beneficial insects as these beetles help decompose deadwood by chewing the pulp and then expelling the frass.

Musically inclined or just a talkative beetle?

The phrase “crazy as a Betsy Bug” may refer to the sounds that these insects make — The adults are able to produce at least 17 different calls (Stridulation) as they communicate with other beetles or when disturbed/agitated, which are audible to humans.

Life cycle/ Developmental stage.

Using its large mandibles, the horned passalus cuts into fallen logs and creates tunnels where the eggs are deposited and hatched into white grubs (larvae) that have up to three instars. They appear to only have two pairs of legs, but a third pair is present and reduced. Only the first two pairs are used for movement. These grubs usually retain a distinctive C-shaped position when not active.

As pupae begin to form they become pearly white with a rainbow sheen. As the pupae age, they lose their rainbow sheen and can range in color from off white to earth-toned. Adult beetles aggregate and compete for sections of fallen wood.  

Nuptial flight or defense?

Newly mature adults will leave the parent log and participate in a nuptial flight, one of the only instances of their wing use. During observations of the nuptial flight, adults were found to be susceptible to light attractants such as light traps and street lights. At the end of the nuptial flight, adults will seek out a new log to start another aggregation.

For more information, please contact your local county extension office.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publications/websites below: horned passalus – Odontotaenius disjunctus (Illiger) (; EENY 487/IN879: Horned passalus, Odontotaenius disjunctus (Illiger) (Insecta: Coleoptera: Passalidae: Passalinae) ( and Odontotaenius disjunctus (

Fall into Action – Winter Weeds & Turfgrass

Fall into Action – Winter Weeds & Turfgrass

Weeds are basically unwanted plants or plants growing out of place. Proper identification and some understanding of how and why weeds are present in a lawn are important when selecting the best management tactics. All turf weeds can be grouped into one of three life cycles: annual, biennial, or perennial.

Annual: Produces seeds during one season only

Biennial: Produces seeds during two back-to-back seasons

Perennial: Produces seeds over many seasons

Knowing the types of weed previously present in an area also can help one to be better prepared and what control measures to employ in the future.

Weeds may appear in multiple categories, either broadleaf, grass, or Sedges/rushes.

Lawn with winter annual weeds in early spring
Winter annual weeds in lawn in early spring. Photo credit: Larry Williams

Broadleaves, or dicotyledonous plants, have two cotyledons (seed leaves) when the weed seed germinates.

Appearance: Broad, flat leaves with net-like veins and usually have showy flowers.

Common types: Clover, ground ivy, dandelions, chickweed, plantain, henbit, beggarweed.

Grasses are monocotyledonous plants that have only one cotyledon, or seed leaf, present when seedlings emerge from the soil.

Appearance: Narrow leaves with parallel veins in their true leaves. Hollow rounded stems.

Common types: crabgrass, goosegrass, crowfoot grass, bull grass, annual bluegrass, alexander grass, cogon grass, torpedo grass, and smut grass.

Sedges/rushes. Both favor a moist habitat. Appearance: triangular-shaped, solid stems, while rush stems are round and solid.

Common types: yellow and purple nutsedge and, to some degree, globe, Texas, annual, and water sedge.

One of the first steps in managing weeds is to have a healthy dense lawn/ turf to provide shade that prevents seed germination. Having a healthy lawn depends on turf species selected – making sure you put the right plant and right place. Other factors that influence a heathy turf and a reduced amount of weeds include proper cultural control, fertilizing regularly, mowing at the appropriate height, watering deeply, reducing traffic, pest control, and sanitation. If you only have a few bothersome weeds in your lawn, you may be able to dig them up by hand—but if your lawn is overrun with weeds, you may need to start from scratch. If you decide to start from the beginning, you have a choice ahead of you. Do you want to lay down seed or sod? There are pros and cons to each.


Pros: Less expensive, more variety

Cons: Takes longer to germinate, can only lay at certain times of year depending on grass type


Pros: Instant grass, can lay any time of year, requires little maintenance

Cons:  More costly, less variety in grass can mean less healthy lawn overall

To prepare the soil after either method, make sure you till it down to roughly 6 to 8 inches.

Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publications (Weed management for Florida lawns) or contact your local Extension Office!

Stinging Hymenopterans – Medical importance.

Stinging Hymenopterans – Medical importance.


Summertime is known for cookouts, barbeque, a stroll through the park or even in your backyard; Be aware of stinging insects. These pests are especially active during the second half of summer and early fall when the colonies forage for food to sustain their queens during the winter. Although many are beneficial pollinators they often pose a danger because of their sting. While some of these stings causes minor reactions, others can pose a serious heath threat, which makes them medically important. These stinging hymenopterans includes wasps, hornets, yellow jackets, velvet ants, Africanized and European honey bee and fire ants.


Unique /Important Traits of this group of insects.

Photograph by Lyle Buss, University of Florida

Yellow jackets, paper wasps, and bald-faced hornets can sting multiple times causing allergic reactions. The female velvet ants have a very potent sting that has earned them the nickname “cow-killer.” Unlike Wasps, hornets, and yellow jackets, honey bees only sting once and lose their barbed stinger killing the bee within minutes talk about a sacrifice. Africanized honey bees are dangerous stinging insects that have been known to chase people for over quarter of a mile once they get excited and aggressive, earning the name “killer bee”. Imported fire ants both bite and sting repeatedly, and envenomation (injecting venom) only occurs through the sting.

Solitary vs. Eusocial
Most wasps and bees are solitary – being alone or in solitude, and do not defend their nests, but will sting in defense if caught. On the contrary, the eusocial group, especially ants, bees, and wasps, will display territorial behavior and it is mostly these groups that cause medically significant stings.


Photograph by James L. Castner, University of Florida

What makes Hymenopterans important medically?
Unlike the male, the female Hymenoptera possess specialized stinging apparatus used to inject their venom into prey’s or intruder’s body. Entomologist Justin O. Schmidt’s knows about this all too well, he records his own experience of venomous stings and rate it on a pain scale index ranging from 1- 4, with four being the most painful. It could be life-threatening for people sensitive to the venom. While most stings cause only minor problems, stings cause a significant number of deaths.

What are some possible reactions after the stings?
Local reactions (pain, small edema, redness at the site of the sting); regional reactions, (extensive local swelling, exceeding 10 cm, persisting longer than 24 hours). Systemic anaphylactic responses – most dangerous of the reactions. Symptoms may include itching, rashes or hives, tightness or swelling in the throat, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting and dizziness. More severe cases the individual may experience severe shortness of breath, a drop-in blood pressure, loss of consciousness. Even though some of these reactions are mild about 3% of people ends up the emergency room each year from symptoms related to stings. Some may result in death of the individual.

Treatment/ Preventative Measures
What to do?
Capture the organism, if possible, for identification; allergy desensitization shots; sting removal; hive removal (certified handler); antihistamine (oral or parenteral) and epinephrine by inhalation or epinephrine by injection.

For more information, please contact your local county extension office.
Supporting information for this article can be found in the UF/IFAS EDIS publications/websites below:
Differences Between European and African Honey Bees: IN784-9221465.pdf (; Stinging or Venomous Insects and Related Pests: IG099-D1czi7xu65.pdf ( ;