If you have young sons, you’ll love this. Boys love beetles. I remember when my neighbor’s young son lost his Dad–he was about 10 or so. What can you ever say or do to help with a thing like that? Fortunately, I’d found a huge dead scarab beetle in the road. I brought that to him. It probably has to be one of the more unusual mourning gifts ever offered. But I know it did cheer him, at least momentarily. It was the best I could do.
So yes, this post is about beetles as pollinators. Now, as a general rule, beetles aren’t the greatest of pollinators-and we don’t know as much about them as we do some of our other pollinators. So my reference for you is going to be a course syllabus on seeds.
Some of the terms in there can be a bit obscure. Suffice it to say that the syllabus talks about beetle pollination of certain water plants like water lilies and those huge tropical water plants that are large enough for small children to stand on called Victoria, as well as plants in the illicium and magnolia families.
When I say that we don’t know much about beetles as pollinators, I mean that we don’t know about the mechanisms they use to pollinate. It’s thought that they get into the flowers and just sort of stumble around, covering themselves with pollen. They don’t have the specific means to carry pollen the way that bees do, or the special tongues to sip pollen the way that hummingbirds or certain moths do.
But perhaps that’s our fault. It’s only in recent years that we have begun to pay attention to our pollinators. I think we’ll hear a lot more about some of these more unusual pollinators in years to come.