Native Florida Pollinators

August 24, 2018 meeting presentation by Jonnie Dietz, entomologist, educator and  Living Exhibit Specialist and Outreach Coordinator from the Florida Museum of Natural History 

Flies:  There are actually a variety of flies.  They are not efficient pollinators, but there are so many of them, they get the job done.  You can identify a fly because it only has two wings.  Described – Hover Flies, Bee Flies, Tachinid Flies and Blowflies.  

Love Bugs:  Are native to Central America and on their own have migrated north and east to US.

Mosquitos:  Both male & female need nectars, but only the female will bite people because the blood helps her to produce eggs.  

Beetles:  Are the largest group of insects.  She described Tumbling, Soldier, Scarab and Longhorn Beetles.  

Wasps:  Some are aggressive and should be avoided or left alone such as Paper Wasps including, Yellow Jackets and Hornets.  These are communal wasps and build nests and will defend them.  

  • Mud Daubers, Digger Wasps and Cicada Killers:  Are solitary nesters.  They prey on insects to feed their young.  
  • Potter Wasp:  Builds a little “pot” out of mud and lays 1 egg in it with one strand of silk, and then stuffs it with paralyzed caterpillars.  The larva will feed on the paralyzed caterpillars.  
  • She also described Spider Wasps, Cuckoo Wasps, Tiphiid Wasps and Scoliid Wasps.  

Bees:  Are the best pollinators.  They have long tongues (some fold up under their chins).  Bees fed pollen to their young.  Their bodies have branched hairs that collect pollen.  She described Sweat Bees, Leaf Cutters, Mason Bees (that will nest in Bee Boxes), Bumble Bees and Carpenter Bees.  

Butterflies:  Sulphurs, Skippers, Swallow Tails, Brush Foots.  Brush Foot Butterflies include Monarchs, Gulf Fritillary and Zebra Longwing (the Florida State Butterfly).  The Zebra Longwing is the only butterfly that feeds only on pollen and can live several months versus most butterflies living only about 4 weeks.  The Monarch has one generation born in the North that will live long enough to migrate back to Mexico, rest and begin northern migration.  But it takes several generations of Monarchs to be born along the way in their migration to the North.

Moths were the last category she described.

The Florida Museum of Natural History is working with the Florida Department of Transportation to limit their mowing along roadsides, to help native pollinators with their habitat.  

The Florida Museum of Natural History works with the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund to raise awareness of endangered animals, including the Miami Blue Butterfly.

Following her presentation, Ms. Dietz addressed questions from the audience for about 15 minutes, until 2:30pm.  

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