Nectar in all places…and bugs will discover it | Information, Sports activities, Jobs


TR PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG – A short hike to the Marietta Sand Prairie earlier this week was an interesting exploration of the life of miniature animals … insects. It didn’t take long to find several varieties of long-legged creatures, all with wings and all very busy sipping and collecting nectar from the various plant flowers.

INSECTS are abundant, sometimes a pest, but most of the time they are underrated for their good things. If we humans enjoy eating a wide variety of nutritious foods, we must recognize the role beneficial insects play in creating those foods. Three quarters of the world’s food supply plant species need to be pollinated. Pollination can, in many cases, be achieved by a multitude of insects flying around day and night, visiting the flowers of all kinds of plants, and passing on pollen grains. An estimated $ 200 billion worth of crops are pollinated by insects.

Plant pollination is not just limited to insects. Wind works well for some plants. In other cases, water can be a method of transporting pollen, with some plant products floating on the surface and interacting with other parts of the plant. A variant of water that supports pollination is rain, in which splash water with its raindrops takes along small amounts of pollen. Rain allows some orchids to self-pollinate. Small mammals such as mice or voles can unknowingly carry pollen that has collected on their fur while they scurry over floor runs and graze low-growing parts of the flower of plants. Flying mammals, in this case bats, also perform a lot of pollination when they fly at night in ecosystems where desert flowers only open at night. Nocturnal visits to flowers allow bats to eat while distributing pollen from plant to plant.

Animals, insects and small mammals carry pollen grains from the anther of one flower to the receptive part of the carpel or pistil (stigma) of another flower. Between 100,000 and 200,000 animal species serve as pollinators of the 250,000 flowering plant species in the world.

The majority of these animals are insects, but around 1,500 species of birds and mammals that visit flowers can transmit pollen. In some of the Earth’s ecosystems, monkeys, lemurs, squirrels, rodents, and possums play roles in the continuation of plant life.

Flowers can be a color to the human eye. For the eyes of birds and insects, the color of the flowers can transmit light wavelengths that are invisible to us, but very clearly visible to them. Color helps. Likewise, fragrant scents that attract insects on sure-footed flights to and from flowers. In today’s pictures of insects at work, notice how the hind legs of the bumblebee working over a wild bergamot flower are full of pollen. It may be hard to see, but the pollen packages are there, ready to be transported back to the earthmoving beehive. A common sulfur butterfly performs its feeding and pollination on a clover blossom. And a monarch butterfly and a black wasp take turns on tiny white flowers. Other flying insects that can be found on flowers include bees, wasps, ants, beetles, moths, butterflies, and flies.

TR PHOTOS BY GARRY BRANDENBURG – A short hike to the Marietta Sand Prairie earlier this week was an interesting exploration of miniature animal life … insects. It didn’t take long to find several varieties of long-legged creatures, all with wings and all very busy sipping and collecting nectar from the various plant flowers.

Honey bees are extremely valuable for crops. In fact, entire half loads of beehives can be transported across the country in time to facilitate the flowering of the fruit trees. The largest organized pollination event affects California almond plantations, where nearly half of all honey beehives (approximately one million beehives) are transported to almond plantations each spring. It is estimated that 30,000 beehives are needed in New York state to help pollinate apple crops. Maine’s blueberry cultivation requires 50,000 beehives. An incentive to create long-term conservation areas includes all types of native flower varieties specifically designed to encourage natural and native insects to thrive so that pollination can be more effective.

Prairie flowers in the Marietta Sand Prairie are great to see and admire. While we humans may have a motive to just see and admire all the native grassland plants, at our feet lies the tiny world of insects doing their life’s work. And their lives depend on finding food for themselves while allowing all kinds of host plants to thrive, as pollen exchange makes these flowering plants viable for another year. Mother nature has a finely tuned system. Our job is to appreciate and marvel at this intricate web of life. Enjoy your walks in the sand prairie.

TIME SPENT OUTDOORS is refreshing. The time you spend with nature is exciting and educational in many subtle ways. My morning hike in the Sand Prairie, as mentioned above, did just as much for me personally as the foraging for this article. I knew in advance that I could find subjects to photograph, get to know, and then read highlights. Mission accomplished.

An evolutionary biologist explained on his podcast how studies have shown that one of the best ways to increase mental health is to exercise … under tall trees. Going outside is a way of breaking free from computers, cell phones, and man-made things that we believe we need to do. Mother Nature has a recipe for improving mental health. It involves going outside and doing things that you enjoy doing in an environment without any hard structured work. I think these articles are exactly what the doctor ordered for anyone willing to spend time fishing, hiking, hunting, camping, bird watching, or any other outdoor activity. May the power of Mother Nature be with you. Enjoy.

DEER LICENSE SELLING begin today at dealer locations or online. Iowa deer licenses for this Fall 2021 through January 2022 must be purchased prior to the start of the juvenile game or regular archery season and / or after the hunting seasons. The number of deer in Iowa for the total Iowa population is consistent with biologists’ projections. The new Iowa DNR Hunting Regulations 2021-22 have been printed. They are available now at license outlets or, if you are attending the Iowa State Fair, in the DNR building, where all fish aquariums draw crowds of visitors to see what goes on under Iowa waters. It won’t be long before athletes feel the unique urge to prepare for the fall hunting season.

TR PHOTO BY GARRY BRANDENBURG – Summer is a busy time for insects as much of their entire life cycle relies on foraging for food. And in these cases, foraging is also part of a long and complicated ecological interaction between plants and insects to distribute pollen for the reproduction of many different plants. Insects may be tiny, but they are an integral part of plant life and essential to all types of food production.

ROADSIDE WILDLIFE COUNTS ROUTES have been completed on most of Iowa’s 200+ routes. For Tyson Brown, game warden, his routes were taken and the data sent to the biologist’s office for tabulation. On one of his routes he observed 31 partridges, 12 pheasants and 1 rabbit. These numbers by themselves do not seem to point the way, but over the course of many years past, these numbers can point to trends in the general population. In September, all nationwide highland game route data will be published. From this, relative population maps for pheasants, quails, partridges and cottontail rabbits can be created.

Think of this quote from Booker T. Washington during these turbulent times in the world. “A lie does not become truth. Wrong does not become right and evil does not become good just because it is accepted by the majority. “


Garry Brandenburg is the retired director of the Marshall County Conservation Board. He is a graduate of Iowa State University with a BS in Fish and Wildlife Biology.

Contact him at:

P.O. Box 96

Albion, IA 50005

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