Illinois Natural History Survey - University of Illinois

The Naturalist's Apprentice: Prolific Pollinators!

Objective: to learn about some of the different flower types and the animals that pollinate them

Materials: multiple copies of Prolific Pollinators!

Vocabulary: evolve, pollinator, pollination

Comments: Flowering plants and insects evolved together, and insects were the first animals to serve as pollinators. Modern flowering plants can have very elaborate floral adaptations that are designed to attract specific types of pollinators. These pollinators include bats, birds, and various insects from beetles to bees to flies to moths. To be an effective pollinator, an animal must visit flowers in search of pollen or nectar and move pollen from flower to flower during its visits. These are a few examples of pollinators and the flowers they like: bats and moths attracted to night-blooming white flowers; pollinators with long tongues feeding on trumpet-shaped flowers that have much nectar hidden deep within them; flies attracted to rotten-smelling flowers; and hummingbirds that like the color red.


1. Introduce the subject of flower pollination by animals with the material presented above.

2. Distribute copies of Prolific Pollinators! and have students match organisms in column 1 with appropriate pollinators in column

2. Answers: 1 C; 2 A, F; 3 A, F; 4 B, F; 5 G, B.

3. Have students try to name other animals that might pollinate these flowers.


Prolific Pollinators!

 Many flowers have shapes that lend themselves to pollination by a very few types of animals. Observe the shape of the flowers in column 1 and try to choose appropriate pollinators from column 2. Some flowers may have more than one type of pollinator. Under some flowers is a hint as to their color, fragrance, or blooming time.


Michael Jeffords, Center for Economic Entomology

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Last Modified 4/24/96

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