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Nature & Science

Why Do Bugs Eat Pollen?

Image Source: TB studio / Shutterstock

Pollen is a powdery substance rich in proteins, produced by many plants, particularly floral plants. It is essential for the development of naturally growing plants. Insects that visit flowers for nectar carry and disperse pollen, contributing to the growth of new plants. Bugs eat pollen to enrich their diets.

Bees are well-known for their co-dependent relationship with flowers. As they visit flowers for nectar, they become coated with pollen, which they then shed as they fly, aiding in plant reproduction and new plant growth. In return, flowers provide bees with nectar and pollen to take back to their hives.

While resting on flowers, bees primarily consume nectar and carry a mix of pollen and nectar to feed their larvae in the hives. Wasps also carry nectar and pollen to feed their young, helping in pollination, though they don’t consume the pollen themselves. Many species of flies, resembling bees, occasionally eat pollen, but nectar is their more common food source.

Most beetles enjoy the protein-rich content of pollen. Ladybugs in the US are commonly seen eating pollen, while the pollen beetle is known for decimating plants by consuming excessive amounts of pollen. Butterflies and moths, important pollinators, thrive on nectar and aid in plant reproduction by spreading pollen as they travel between flowers.

Some mites see pollen as a tasty treat and visit flowers to enjoy a meal. They are too tiny to effectively carry and disperse pollen, often riding on the backs of insects and stealing pollen from hives, depriving bees of a food source for their larvae.

Image Source: TB studio / Shutterstock

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