Texas Tech University


Insect pollinators in the forest

There are many kinds of insects that are able to successfully pollinate plants. Some are specialized pollinators, like many native bees and some moths, but some can pollinate almost by accident, as is the case for many beetles.

For more information about pollinators and pollination, take a look at the information that graduate student Alyssa DeWaele put together on this website.


Bee by David LevineBees are specialized pollinators of many different plants. There are nearly 4,000 species of bees in the United States. They come in different sizes and colors. Bees are able to carry pollen on them because their legs, and often other parts of their bodies, are covered with hairs. 


Carpenter beeBeeBumble bee

Cellophane beeLeafcutting beeCarpenter bee

Sweat bee Sweat bee Sweat bee Sweat bee 

Some of the bee families represented here are Apidae, Megachilidae, and Halictidae.

Butterflies and Moths

Monarch butterfly on Salvia

These insects have long tongues that allow them to reach inside flowers to find nectar. As they fly from flower to flower searching for nectar, they transport pollen on their bodies, pollinating plants.

Butterflies are commonly seen during the day, as they are attracted to brightly colored flowers.

Front view of a moth with bipectinate antennae


Moths are active at night and they use their specialized antennae to perceive flower scents.



Hawk moth by flowers

Some moths have very long tongues to reach the nectar hidden in long flowers.




In the exhibit we included both butterflies and moths from different places around the world.

Mexican Kite-Swallowtail Asian swallowtailOrange albatross butterfly

Yellow and white butterfly Great EggflyFritillary butterfly

Comma butterflyJunonia butterflyMap butterfly

Sphinx mothSphinx moth

Noctuid mothLuna mothPolyphemus moth

Some of the families of butterflies and moths included in the insect display are Papilionidae, Pieridae, Nymphalidae, Sphingidae, Noctuidae, and Saturniidae.


Some flies are able to transport pollen, especially those known as hover flies, which belong in the family Syrphidae.

Hover flyHover flyHover fly


Beetles compose the largest group of living beings on Earth. There are some beetles that pollinate plants by accident, because they feed on pollen, but they are not specially equipped for this task.

Here we have a sample of beetles known as "flower chafers" in the family Scarabaeidae.

Cetoniine beetleCetoniine beetleCetoniine beetleCetoniine beetle

Other beetle pollinators inculde soldier beetles (family Cantharidae), checkered beetles (family Cleridae), some longhorn beetles (family Cerambycidae), and some weevils (family Curculionidae).

Natural Science Research Laboratory