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Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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Insects Are Also Important Pollinators Not Just Bees

A syphrid fly visiting coriander flowers.

(Photo : University of Queensland) A syphrid fly visiting coriander flowers.

Bees are often given all the credit for their pollination powers however, other insects are just as effective in successfully producing the planet's crops, according to this new study.

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This new study is suggesting how other, non-bee pollinators like flies, wasps and beetles including butterflies are also pivotal in providing potential pollination insurance, as bees continue to decline in population numbers.

According to Romina Rader from the University of New England, her team determined for the first time in this new study how non-bee insects are contributing to crop pollination all around the world. Rader says that this study began when she observed crops that have abundant non bee insects in certain areas and times of day in a specific set of conditions, leading to the idea of how much these non bee pollinators are working hard in this process.

The team also conducted data analysis gathered from 17 pollinator dependent crops from five continents, that range from monocultures to smaller, more diverse ecosystems. Researchers then determined factors like visitation rates, effectivity and contribution of yield and habitat relationship.

Results revealed how non-bees are responsible for 25 to 50 percent of the total number of flower visits. Even if non-bees are less effective in pollen deposit, they visit flowers at a much more higher rate than bees, which results in an almost similar quality of pollination services.

This new study also provided significant information about the role of non-bees to crops especially those crops that are not attractive to bees like mangoes, custard apples and soursop.

According to co-author of the study, Saul Cunningham from the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), this new study is crucial in filling the gap that created a bias in research about studying bees.

He adds how while bees are the most efficient crop pollinators based on visits, this also means that many insects are also involved in this process, especially beetles, wasps and flies. There are so many other insects that can also have a greater impact on the crop pollination process and this is evident in crops that do not attract bees as much.

This new study is published in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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