We are immensely lucky to live on a planet where life can exist and where there is such a diversity of animal and plant species that the eyes often do not know where to stop to contemplate such beauty. But in recent times, especially after the Industrial Revolution, it seems that we have forgotten that Earth is the only home we know, the only home we can be in.
I am not going to go into human issues (greed, greed, etc.) because those are not for this blog, but I am going to talk to you about the importance of pollination, how it works, which are the animals involved and why it is very interesting to help nature with a hotel for insects.
How does pollination work?
To understand what pollination is and what it consists of, it is first necessary to know what are the parts of a flower and what is the function of each one. Also, for this you should know that there are two large groups of plants: gymnosperms and angiosperms.
Within this group we find ferns, cycads, conifers and the only tree, the Ginkgo biloba (the only species of Ginkgo that has survived to this day). It is estimated that they began their evolution more than 300 million years ago, and although they are all different, they have a similar reproductive system.
These plants do not produce showy flowers, but they do they give seedoften called a spore, although this seed is “naked”; that is, it does not form in closed ovaries as in the case of angiosperms, but rather arises directly from a branch of limited growth from which only fertile leaves or sporophylls sprout. These sporophils can reach easily visible sizes, but can sometimes go unnoticed:
Once the seed or spore is formed, gymnosperms rely on wind and water to serve as a “means of transportation” for their future offspring. They do not usually trust insects or other animals very much, because when they began their evolution there were hardly any pollinating species; hence they do not produce nectar or honey either.
Angiosperms are “modern” plants (if we accept “modern” to have appeared on Earth about 140 million years ago, in the Triassic or Jurassic). They coexisted with dinosaurs, the largest reptiles ever to walk on earth, and their evolution led to a series of enormous and important changes in the different habitats of the planet. And is that not only they evolved, but also insects, and with them the rest of animals.
To understand it, it could be said that it was like a wheel, as if the production of flowers with petals gave the starting signal to a revolution in nature that would end up being of vital importance for mammals … among which we find ourselves humans.
The flowers of this large group are usually very showy, with cheerful colors, since the petals serve as a lure for insects to go to them. In addition, all of them produce nectar and / or honey: they must do so if they want to establish lasting relationships with their pollinators. Any of them go to a flower, it feeds on its nectar and / or honey, and often inadvertently hundreds, maybe thousands, grains of pollen stick to its body.
When you go to another flower, those pollen grains will be deposited on the stigma, which is a very fine stem that is in the center of the flower. From there, the ovary will fertilize and begin to grow, as it hardens and produces the seeds inside. At that moment is when we see that the petals wither and fall quickly, revealing a more or less swollen “ball”, which will become the fruit of the plant.
The work of the parents – usually – ends / r (there are some plants, such as mangroves, that retain their seeds until they germinate, thus increasing their chances of survival) when the fruit matures. Now it is the wind, the water or, more frequently the animals, who are in charge of taking the future offspring as far as possible from their parents.
Angiosperms and gymnosperms
Why are pollination and pollinating insects important?
The short answer would be because without them the animal world (and of course the human world) would face, perhaps and without the intention of being alarmist, its extinction, unless humanity created means (robot-bees perhaps?) That took charge to pollinate each of the flowers of the plants.
We mention bees a lot, not in vain they are the most important insects, but we cannot and should not forget many others: wasps, butterflies, ants, dragonflies, and a long etcetera. Do you know what is the percentage of plants that need them? About 80%according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (you have more information here!).
- We over-exploit natural resources
- We deforest at a rate where the forest does not have time to regenerate
- We start fires
- And what, as gardeners or gardening enthusiasts, touches us more fully: we use chemicals that erode the soil and harm the environment.
I will not be the one who forbids you to use chemical insecticides, but I will tell you that it is not recommended. Insecticide, herbicide, pesticide, fungicide … all these terms end in “acid”, which means “eliminate”, “destroy”, “kill”. They kill those insects that, yes, may be harming crops, but also others that are beneficial. Apart from that, they also harm, to a greater or lesser extent, the plants, by preventing their own defense system from being strengthened.
The issue of chemical fertilizers or compounds is also an important one. They serve to grow something fasterbut, if you allow me the comparison, it is like feeding farm animals with feed so that they get fat as quickly as possible. A cruelty, because these animals face many diseases. The same goes for plants.
We give them fertilizers rich in nitrogen so that they grow, so that they become big and beautiful, but we forget that they need many other nutrients (phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron,…) for their health to be really good. It is not surprising, then, that crops that are treated only with chemicals are more vulnerable to pests and diseases: we leave them defenseless.
Helps pollinating insects
Today we know that there are different ways of caring for plants while respecting the environment. In this article For example, we tell you what are some of the fertilizers and natural remedies that you can use, but there are still more things that can be done to help pollinators.
Have showy flowering plants
In addition to attracting pollinating insects, you will get a spectacular garden or patio. Place echinaceae, daisies, lavender essence
, romero, rockrose, dandelion, calendula, celindo… All of these will delight the animals.
Grow various species of plants
If monocultures are characterized in one thing, it is in the poor biodiversity they harbor. For this reason, it is very interesting to have several different: trees, shrubs, palms, horticulturals … and if they are indigenous, better than better because they will be much more prepared to live well in your area.
Have a hotel for insects
Hotels for insects are an ideal refuge for them, a place where they can go about their life with total normality. They are made with wood and straw, although you can also put a piece of wire mesh or grid so that they are more protected (from birds, for example). Here you can buy yours.
Where to put the insect hotel?
Placed in a sheltered, quiet area where there are many beautiful and cheerful flowering plantsit is only a matter of time before you receive your first guests. The most interesting thing is that you can have it even if cats or dogs are in your garden, patio or terrace, since they are not enemies (except for puppies, who can sometimes play with butterflies or that) of insects.
Where to buy insect hotel?
You can buy it at the Leroy Merlin and on Amazon, or from here:
And with this we are done. I hope you have learned a lot about pollination and pollinating insects .
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