I wrote this for the Tiny Cottager magazine, with a particular focus on the sandy conditions in which cottagers garden. There are many more great pollinator plants than the 15 in the downloadable list at the end of this article! But they are a good start.
About 10 per cent of flowering plants are wind-pollinated but the overwhelming majority rely on insects for the process that results in fertilization, seed production and future generations. Bees are the essential pollinators, designed for the efficient transfer of pollen grains from one flower to another.
There are more than 400 species of native bees in Ontario. Of these, only the 16 species of bumble bees live together in colonies. The rest are solitary bees, the female nesting in sparsely vegetated soil, hollow stems, twigs or wood cavities. Not being territorial, solitary bees are unlikely or not equipped to sting.
The European honey bee was introduced and competes with native bees for floral resources. It can sting, but won’t unless provoked.
Recent research indicates that the pollination role of moths, with their hairy underbellies, has been underestimated. Most moths are nocturnal. Artificial light at night adversely affects all insect populations, but especially moths. Butterflies tend to be incidental pollinators, only lightly contacting pollen when they sip up nectar. There are exceptions – one, cited by Heather Holm in Pollinators of Native Plants
, is the Peck’s Skipper butterfly, the primary pollinator of Prairie Phlox. Read more