1) Bee Pollination:
Bees are the most prolific pollinators amongst the 10 animals that help in flower pollination that we are going to study, which is why you keep hearing that concerning adage about the major ramifications of their extinction. They can pollinate up to 20 million flowers a day in a swarm the size of 20,000 bees. Bee pollination is also known as Melittophily. Many of the plants and flowers you see around you are there because of the tireless buzzing of bees. Potatoes, Tomatoes, Eggplants, etc. all need bees for the process of pollination and propagation. These agricultural crops actually hold their pollen quite firmly so that bumblebees have to adopt a special technique of vibration in order to force the anthers (the part which holds the pollen) to release the pollen contained within. They do this by vibrating themselves while touching the flower. This specialized approach goes both ways. There are flowers that adapt in a certain way to attract bees. For example, the Bee Orchid, which looks and smells like a female bee to achieve reproduction via bees. So, the next time you hear about bees facing extinction, take it seriously for our lives might actually depend on it.
Butterflies, although not as productive as bees when it comes to pollinating, are still heavily involved in the process of pollination. This type of flower pollination is also known as Psychophily. They are much larger than bees and have longer more spindly legs. This means they have less surface area for the pollen to stick to and they need flowers with flat pads where they can land whilst consume nectar. Butterflies need a lot of nectar as they need it for fueling their flying expeditions. Think of flowers as gas stations or petrol pumps for butterflies. Flowers that butterflies usually pollinate have larger flat areas in the center where the butterflies can land to suck the nectar out.
Wasps are not as efficient as bees either, a matter of fact, no animal or insect is. But, wasps are still among the top 5 pollinators of flowers. They look like bees but unlike bees, they have no hairs on their body that pollen can stick to when they hover over the flower till they have drunk enough nectar. Wasps are pretty big and fly a lot during a day, needing them to drinking more nectar. Not all species of wasps pollinate flowers, but, the ones that do, have specialized flowers that they pollinate for. This means that either the wasp or the flower or both are adapted to make more efficient, the process of reproduction.
Butterflies only pollinate during the day. This is the single biggest difference between the two. Where butterflies only forage out under the protection of the Sun, many species of moths are nocturnal and stay up all night collecting nectar and going from one night-blooming flower to the next. Night blooming flowers rely heavily on the moths to spread their roots.
Hoverflies are one of those species that spend a great amount of effort in mimicking and biomimicking other living creatures. Since the sole reason, they do this is to get more nectar, one of their favorite impressions is that of the bees. They even have distinct resemblances to bees that are just too apparent to be a coincidence. However, this is not the only way hoverflies help flowers. Their larvae eat aphids that are tiny parasites harmful to plants and flowers. Hoverflies will lay their eggs on plants to enable easy access to nectar for the newborn caterpillars and in the process of doing so, the caterpillars also kill and eat the predators of plants. It’s a win-win situation as the larvae get a place to feed on nectar as well as aphids.
For some reason, when someone mentions bats, an image of a nefarious creature that sucks blood comes to mind. And while there are vampiric bats, most bats are harmless. In fact, they are helpful. Bats are largely responsible for the pollination of several plant species that grow in extreme climates such as deserts. Bats can fly a lot more than any insects mentioned above and need nectar to keep going, so they are ideal for pollinating flowers that grow sparsely in unfavorable climates. They are known to pollinate many fruits. Mangoes, Guavas, Bananas and the like are all able to propagate thanks to bats.
Since we are already on the topic of flying rodents, might as well include birds. Birds of all kinds can act as pollinating agents, but don’t. The ones that do pollinate are specially adapted to being able to pollinate. This requires them to be small in size and lightweight so as to be able to hover for long durations. An image of a hummingbird comes to mind just suckling on the sweet nectar of flowers, looking fixed in the air, its wings a blur, almost invisible, because of how fast it’s flapping them. Additionally, birds that pollinate also need to possess really long beaks that can go deep into the flower and drink the nectar.
Ants are pretty useful pollinators contrary to the lack of attention that is attributed to them in most botanical circles. They carry pollen with them whenever they go near flowers to either drink sweet nectar or to eat dead insects and other victims of nature. They also eat fruits that plants produce and often bring back pollen with them once they are done eating the fruit. Ants enjoy an especially interesting relationship with the Protea Pinwheel flower. These particular flowers rely on forest fires to kill their natural predators and grow in abundance right after a fire. To accomplish this, they increase the degree of accessibility for ants in one way or the other, who will take their fruit back to their anthills and not eat the seeds, instead discarding them on the floor of their anthill. This makes sure the seeds are buried deep in the ground ready to sprout up as soon as a fire has subsided and the environment is optimal for growth without fear of predators.
9) Black and White Lemurs:
These particular lemurs are especially fond of nectar and have special noses that resemble beaks to dig deep within the crevices of flowers. Lemurs make it onto this list because of their manic love of fruits. They eat over a 130 different types of fruits and are responsible for pollinating all of them. Not solely, but certainly being one of the big contributors to their propagation. They are especially responsible for the spread of Traveler’s trees, whose fruits grow at a considerable height and no other animal travels that high up to inadvertently pollinate it. So, it falls on the lemurs to do it, but they don’t mind, because they are willing to risk their lives for a succulent morsel.
Last, but certainly not the least, flies are responsible for a lot of plant reproduction. They, however are not so attracted by fragrant flower smells and the lure of nectar unlike most other animals on this list. Flies are a lot more attracted to the smell of rotten flesh and feces. So what do flowers that need flies to pollinate do? They smell exactly like corpses and poop. These special flowers are not as common as your garden variety flowers, but grow only in certain places and under very specific circumstances. For example, the Corpse Flower and the Corpse Lily blossom once every few decades and need flies to immediately pollinate them while they are still in bloom. The only difference here is that flowers that attract flies have nothing to offer the flies except the hope of eating their favorite food. The flies get disappointed every time they fall prey to the lure of these smelly flowers. Oh well, not every deal is a win-win situation!