Conservation // 3 min Read


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.

Culture / Day Trips from Palmetto Bluff

Story by Barry Kaufman and Photographs by Lizzy Rollins Just beyond the gates of Palmetto Bluff, at the end of that quiet stretch of trees and sunlight, a solitary strip of pavement beckons. This connective tissue, a tributary, leads off across the great Amer...

Feb 2024
palmetto bluff

Real Estate / Behind the Bluff with Broker-in-Charge W. Bryan Byrne

Bryan’s Journey to Palmetto Bluff Real Estate In this edition of Behind the Bluff, W. Bryan Byrne, the Broker-in-Charge at Palmetto Bluff Real Estate Company, discusses his two-decade journey in the community. His experience has intricately molded the authent...

Jan 2024
real estate in bluffton sc

Real Estate / Lowcountry Housing Trends & Market Updates

Real Estate in Bluffton, SC: Trends, Updates, and Insights Bluffton, South Carolina, nestled within the scenic Lowcountry, is not just a picturesque haven but also a thriving real estate market. As the demand for homes in this charming town continues to grow,...

Jan 2024

Food & Wine / Mocktails from the Palmetto Bluff Club

Rosemary Spice Mocktail Recipe Introducing Buffalos' exquisite Rosemary Spice Mocktail—a meticulously crafted blend that awakens the taste buds with a perfect harmony of bold flavors. Fresh jalapenos are muddled for a subtle spicy kick, while luscious cra...

Jan 2024

Artist in Residence / Painting Wild

Story by Sandy Lang and Photographs by Lawson Builder In early May, The Arts Initiative hosted renowned Lowcountry painter West Fraser as our esteemed Artist In Residence. Throughout his stay, residents were treated to an array of events, including a painting...

Jan 2024
palmetto buff golf course

Sporting Life / Behind the Bluff with the Palmetto Bluff 9-Hole Golf Course Team

All About the New Palmetto Bluff Golf Course Nestled in the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, a new golfing adventure is taking shape—the Crossroads 9-Hole Golf Course. To delve into the intricacies of this project, we had the opportunity to sit down w...

Dec 2023

Conservation / Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run 2023: A Celebration of Endurance, Nature, and Community

A Recap of the 2034 Buffalo Run The Palmetto Bluff Buffalo Run celebrated its 10th anniversary on Sunday, December 11, 2023, drawing in a record-breaking crowd of over 500 runners. The event, nestled in the heart of Palmetto Bluff's 20,000 acres of natural sp...

Dec 2023
places to eat near hilton head

Food & Wine / Ask the Locals: Our Favorite Restaurants Near Hilton Head

The 10 Best Places to Eat Near Hilton Head Island Nestled on the southernmost tip of South Carolina, Hilton Head Island beckons not only with its pristine beaches but also with a culinary scene that rivals its natural beauty. The Lowcountry, known for breatht...

Dec 2023

Artist in Residence / Journey through Creativity: Palmetto Bluff's 2023 Artist in Residence Highlights

As the sun sets over the picturesque landscape of Palmetto Bluff, we are grateful for the creativity that took center stage throughout the year. The 2023 Artist in Residence program has ended, leaving behind a trail of artistic marvels and inspiring stories. F...

Dec 2023

Real Estate / The Builders Behind the Bluff

Meet the Palmetto Bluff Builders Team A home is more than just bricks and mortar; it's where cherished memories are made, and dreams come to life. At Palmetto Bluff, the Palmetto Bluff Builders team designs homes based on your vision.  Allow us to introduc...

Dec 2023
Community Villages
Palmetto Bluff Club
On The Water
The Arts Initiative
About Us