Native Orchids and Their Pollinators

This post has something for everyone in North America: the orchids are native in ranges from Alaska and parts of Canada to Texas, Florida and Mexico.

And it has all sorts of pollinators too: bees, flies, beetles and yes, even the most unpopular mosquito! Who knew that a mosquito was even a pollinator?!

What on earth sort of orchid has a mosquito for a pollinator? Well, it’s a very nondescript little native orchid called the blunt leaved orchid. It is native to our colder regions beginning at the Arctic Circle and coming as far south as New York in the East and Oregon in the West. Its flowers are tiny and almost the same green as the stem. Its pollinator, the aedes communis mosquito, actually can be found outside of that range–and of course feasts on humans as well.

Other native orchids like the showy lady’s slipper (you may be more familiar with that one–the lovely pink native slipper orchid), while it is visited by a number of flies, beetles and bees, apparently is only pollinated by a specific sort of miner bee. I am fortunate enough to have this type of bee nesting in my gardens–one rare benefit of heavy clay, I suppose–and I am happy to host it!

Where am I getting this obscure knowledge? Pollinator.org, of course, the source for all things anyone might need to know about pollinators and home of the Pollinator Partnership. There is a great poster there available for ordering which shows the native orchids and their pollinators.

There’s also an individual list of each orchid on the poster, and a list of each pollinator of the orchids.

So this is a pretty neat site and a pretty great resource for some pretty obscure stuff. But if it keeps us from using a bug zapper to kill moths–which are great pollinators–I for one will be very happy!

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