There is great diversity in pollinators in the world but here in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology, we have a special place in our hearts for insect pollinators. For several crops (such as sunflowers, blueberries, sweet cherries, and apples), increased bee diversity can result in increased pollination and productivity. Similarly, diversity in floral resources helps supply essential nutrients to pollinators. The UT Gardens in Knoxville will soon be adding signage to indicate some of the pollinators’ favorite plants – please plan a visit to enjoy the plants and the pollinators!
Hoverflies are incredibly important pollinators. In many ways, they are the underdogs (underflies?) in the pollinating world as many mistake them for bees. They are experts of Batesian mimicry, acting as doppelgangers for wasps and bees in hopes of avoiding predators. Sometimes this mimicry is too uncanny, giving bees undue credit for the wonderful services these little critters provide. It’s quite easy to get the two confused, but as soon as the hoverfly takes flight and begins to “hover” in your face, you know you have the real deal. In addition to pollination, hoverflies also aid in pest management. Many of their larvae are predatory, eating other harmful pests that can damage our crops. They also recycle organic matter