Butterflies, especially bees, are usually most admired when it comes to the important process of pollination. These pollinators fly from flower to flower, scattering pollen around them to nourish and fertilize plants. But these fluffy creatures aren’t the only species that help flowers reproduce and bloom. It turns out that among nature’s least known and diverse pollinators, there is a type of long-nosed beetle called a weevil.
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a The study was published in the journal May 25 Peer Communities in Ecology Some individuals wriggle into the world of weevils, and some spend their lives alongside certain plants that help pollinate them.
“Even those who study pollination do not typically consider weevils to be one of the primary pollinators. I don’t think so,” said co-author of the study and assistant curator of insects.Field Museum in Chicago said in a statement. “There are a lot of important things that people overlook because of their preconceived notions.”
Quarter-inch long weevils can be considered pests, especially if spotted. Munch on pasta and flour in the pantry. Weevils have invaded. 19th century ship biscuit Even high-ranking officers were eaten, as depicted in 2003 ocean movie Master & Commander: The Other Side of the World. as they can be very destructive, Between 1829 and 1920, weevils completely disrupted the southern cotton economy. while eating a cotton swab.
Despite the not-so-good reputation of this insect, it is nonetheless beneficial to many plant species around the world.
Scientists have roughly identified Home to 400,000 species of beetles, one of the largest fauna in the world. In this already large swarm of insects, weevils are the largest group. “There are 60,000 species of weevils known to us, which is roughly the number of all vertebrates combined,” said de Medeiros.
The authors surveyed 600 species of weevils and reviewed hundreds of previously published studies on how weevils and plants interact to better understand their role as primary pollinators. reviewed the data.I focused on breeding ground pollinator-Insects that use the same plant as the plant they pollinate as a breeding ground for their larvae. This is similar to the relationship between monarch butterflies and milkweed. Milkweed is the only plant that monarch butterfly larvae can eat.
“This is a special kind of pollination interaction because it usually involves a high degree of specialization. Insects spend their entire lives inside plants, so often they only pollinate that plant,” says de Medeiros. said Mr. And because plants have pollinators that are very reliable, they primarily utilize those pollinators. ”
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Unlike monarch butterflies, breeding ground pollinators take their relationship with plants a step further. They differ from adult monarch butterflies in that he relies on only one plant partner as a source of both food and egg-laying. eat nectar from different kinds of flowers.
“This kind of pollination interaction is generally considered rare or anomalous,” says de Medeiros. “This study shows that there are hundreds of weevil species and plants for which this has already been documented, and many more weevil species and plants yet to be discovered.”
Something like the relationship between weevils and their plants means they need each other to thrive. Some industries, such as palm oil, are already damaging forests, thus interfering with the animal species that depend on them.
“The oil palm used to make peanut butter and Nutella wasn’t a viable industry until someone discovered that weevils found with oil palms were pollinators. It took a lot longer than expected because I had the false preconception that it wasn’t a pollinator,” de Medeiros said.
Misconceptions about weevils were one of the research team’s motivations. The researchers hope that by summarizing what is known about pollinators, more scientists and the general public will be able to understand the role of weevils as pollinators, especially in tropical regions. are doing.