Conservation // 3 min Read

Pollinators

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Jun 25, 2019

Butterflies are more than just a pretty flying insect in your garden; they’re also a pollinator, a biotic pollinator to be specific. Pollination can be defined as the transfer of pollen from one flower to another, not to be confused with fertilization (that’s an entirely different subject).

Pollination is categorized into two types – abiotic and biotic. Abiotic pollination relies on wind, water, or rain to transfer pollen, whereas biotic pollination relies on living organisms. Bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, and many more living organisms (even some kinds of bats) are responsible for more than 90% of all pollination. Pollination is the key to many plants’ survival; therefore, using biotic pollination, plants must learn how to attract certain pollinators.

Flowers often use their color to attract the kinds of pollinators they want. Flies see a spectrum of colors that make orange an attractive color, so they will most often be seen pollinating orange or yellow flowers. Hummingbirds see red better than other colors, so they are often found pollinating red or pink flowers. Beyond bright colors, flowers attract pollinators through a reward system. Pollinators are more likely to pollinate if they get something out of the deal too — a quid pro quo of sorts. Some flowers offer an oil that male insects cover themselves in, making them smell better to females. (Think of it like Axe body spray, for insects.) Flowers also offer pollen that bees use to feed their babies and nectar that many insects use as food. Lastly, some flowers decide to take the easy way out — “cheating” to achieve successful pollination. Take the cunning bee orchid. This sneaky flower’s velvety lip looks like a female bee. Males fly in to try to mate with it and end up pollinating the flower. Ethical or not, this is a remarkable example of floral mimicry and a highly-evolved plant-pollinator relationship.

Pollination wasn’t always this easy. Flowers and pollinators have adapted through time to get the most out of each other. Known as “Pollination Syndrome,” pollinators and flowers adapt to ensure that they are using each other to the best of their ability. In Madagascar, there is a type of orchid whose pollen spur is almost a foot long! Darwin discovered this plant and put forth the thesis that there must be a certain type of insect that has a tongue long enough to reach the pollen. While Darwin never lived to see it, he was correct. A moth was later found with a tongue able to reach the pollen. Over time, both the orchid’s pollen spur and the moth’s tongue have gotten longer, adapting to one another.

Beetles are an example of a “clumsy” pollinator. They don’t have the ability to hover over a flower or manipulate the flower, so they often look for large flowers in tight-knit quarters, like magnolias or pond lilies. Topped with plumes of fluffy yellow flowers, goldenrod (sometimes thought to be a weed), springs up en masse in the summer, so that insects, like beetles, can pollinate them easier. Knowing what certain insects look for in pollination locations makes conservation easier. If you want more beetles, plant large flowers in large groups.

While most pollinators are easy to accommodate (preferring the same plants their entire life), there are exceptions. Butterflies are hard to conserve because caterpillars and adult butterflies need different plants to survive – so instead of planting one flower, you must plant two, in proximity. Monarch caterpillars need milkweed leaves to survive while monarch butterflies find their source of nectar many different flowers.

The best way to help pollinators be successful is to plant native flowers in your garden that target the specific type of pollinator that you desire. And don’t be afraid to call your local nursery or garden associations to ask them for recommendations…your butterflies will thank you.

Conservation / Palmetto Bluff Conservancy 2024 Summer Camps

The Conservancy is looking forward to another summer of fun with our upcoming kid's programs!  Wild Child Camp and Junior Naturalist Camp will have dedicated weeks in June. Registration is $200 per child for the week. To participate, parents must fill out t...

Apr 2024

Culture / Palmetto Bluff Growing Outdoors

Photographs by Summer Pagatpatan Palmetto Bluff is a wilderness playground for families, a gateway to the outdoors, to living life close to nature. Palmetto Bluff Growing Outdoors, or PBGO, encompasses the ethos of this extraordinary place. CampGO is PBGO’...

Apr 2024

Sporting Life / A Comparison of the May River & Crossroads Golf Courses

Discover the May River and Crossroads Golf Courses at Palmetto Bluff Positioned within the enchanting Lowcountry landscape, Palmetto Bluff boasts an array of world-class amenities, with its golf courses standing as a testament to the community's commitment to...

Apr 2024
palmetto bluff

Culture / Behind the Bluff with Fitness and Wellness Director: Jeff Ford

Jeff’s Journey to the Palmetto Bluff Fitness and Wellness Team Palmetto Bluff is located amidst the serene landscapes of the Lowcountry, a tranquil haven where wellness intertwines seamlessly with nature's splendor. Jeff Ford, the Palmetto Bluff Club's Direct...

Apr 2024

Real Estate / Make the Move to the Lowcountry

5 Benefits of Living in South Carolina Known for its charming small towns, pristine coastline, and natural beauty, the South Carolina Lowcountry is one of the most popular places to live. The Lowcountry is a unique and desirable place to live, offering an arr...

Apr 2024

Sporting Life / Crossroads | A Shotmaker’s Playground

Photographs by Patrick O’Brien Words by Rob Collins Designer Rob Collins of King-Collins offers a first look at Crossroads, Palmetto Bluff’s new nine-hole reversible golf course. It is a feat of design. One routing, The Hammer, is a whirlwind of angles and u...

Apr 2024

Architecture & Design / Resurrecting Stones

Story by Katie Epps Photographs by Joel Caldwell Beneath Palmetto Bluff’s sprawling oaks lie twelve cemeteries that serve as the final resting places for hundreds of people and nine dogs. Five of these cemeteries were started as burial grounds for enslaved...

Mar 2024

Real Estate / Discover The Grove: A Premier Enclave for Nature-Inspired Living

Putting Down Strong Roots The Grove seamlessly combines curated style with courtyard living, welcoming the lush beauty of the Lowcountry at every doorstep. With twelve homesites meticulously designed to maximize outdoor living, Palmetto Bluff Builders offer...

Mar 2024

Culture / Meet Palmetto Bluff Club Members Shayne and Jason Hollander

How did you meet? Shayne: Jason and I both attended the University of Southern California. We met through our mutual friend Mike, a USC connection. I was always very captivated by Jason, his wit and charm.  Jason: Shayne’s first job in college was working ...

Mar 2024
palmetto bluff activities

Sporting Life / Sticking to Your New Year Resolutions: How to Stay Active at The Bluff

Create Lasting Habits With These 6 Palmetto Bluff Activities As the new year sets in, many of us find ourselves determined to stick to those resolutions we set just a few weeks ago. Whether it's getting fit, staying active, or embracing a healthier lifestyle,...

Mar 2024
LIVE
Community Villages
Experience
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
Events
Conserve
About Us