Flowers produce a sweet ENERGY DRINK called NECTAR

Lttle garden friends need ENERGY, just like people do. Animal Pollinators such as Bats, Bees & Wasps, Ladybugs & Beetles, Birds, Butterflies, Flies, and Moths are needed for the reproduction of over 90% of flowering plants and one third of human food crops!  By visiting flowers in search of food (nectar and pollen), pollinators KEEP THE ENERGY GOING in the garden. See a close-up photo of a bee with yellow pollen sticking to his legs (on right).   

Different Types of Animal Pollinators


Pollen is the flower’s way of making more flowers. The male part of the flower makes pollen, the powdery grains shown above.  Pollen transferred from flower to flower by animal pollinators helps plants maintain genetic diversity.


These nocturnal flying mammals are attracted to flowers that are white or pale in color, large in size, and have a strong fruit-like fragrance. Bats drink the sweet nectar inside flowers, picking up a dusting of pollen and moving it along to other flowers as they feed.

Bees & Wasps

Since bees and wasps have very high ENERGY needs they are the CHAMPION POLLINATORS! They need pollen (protein) and nectar from flowers for survival. Bees prefer flowers that are brightly colored, full of nectar, and are sweetly aromatic.


Beetles are the largest group of pollinators. The ladybug above drinks nectar and eats pollen, in addition to being a beneficial insect that also eats garden pests. Beetles prefer flowers with lots of pollen, dull white or green in color, and mild in odor.


Hummingbirds are the most familiar nectar-feeding birds in North America. Unlike nighttime pollinators such as moths and bats, hummingbirds like flowers that are bright  and open during the day when they are awake and have little to no odor. Their diet is 90% nectar.


Butterflies aren’t the champions that bees are but they are still very important pollinators!  Most butterflies prefer flowers that are shaped like large landing pads, while others, like the swallow tail butterflies, can nectar in rapid flight like hummingbirds. These larger butterflies can obtain nectar from long tubular flowers as well.


Believe it or not, if it weren’t for fly pollinators, there would be no CHOCOLATE from cocoa tree fruit production! The benefit of fly pollination is underestimated. There are more than 100 crops that depend on regular visits from fly pollinators. Of course, flies prefer stinky flowers pale, dull, or drab in color.


Moths are members of the same family as butterflies, Lepidoptera, and therefore have similar needs – Nectar for ENERGY. Moths are nighttime pollinators, like bats, who prefer flower clusters or ones shaped like landing pads. Visiting flowers in the dark, they are attracted to strong sweet scented nighttime blooming flowers, muted in color.

trafficlight_GOA Place to Go for More to Know

   To learn more about pollination, CLICK HERE to go to the Missouri Botanic Garden website.

Pick a pollinator to learn more: