Why can’t native pollinators benefit from invasive plants?

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Isn’t pollen just… pollen? Why can’t native birds/bees/butterflies benefit from the pollen of invasive flowers?

In: Biology

5 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

They can.

But their benefiting from the invasive can help destroy the basics bc if they’re only hanging out with the invasives, or even just hanging out with the invasives more, then they are not hanging out with the natives, and they are not getting pollinated, so the natives will not reproduce at the same rate they would have if the invases weren’t there.

Anonymous 0 Comments

Because saying it’s just pollen is like saying it’s just food. If you’re a generalist and eat anything at anytime, that’s just more food for you.

But if you’re allergic to peanuts and all the food is snickers bars, pad thai, and PBJs, you’re going to starve or die. Some pollen is actually toxic to some species of pollinators.

Or maybe someone put the food in a jar you can’t open or a shelf you can’t reach. Pollinators vary in how long their tongues are, so a short tongued pollinator needs a particularly shaped flower to get any nectar.

Maybe you work the night shift and rely on there being restaurants like Waffle House open at 5am. If the Waffle Houses suddenly get replaced by brunch restaurants, you have to go elsewhere and expend more energy. Some pollinators have their life cycle timed to when certain plants bloom. For example, some bees eat only blueberry pollen. If the blueberry plants get displaced by a plant that blooms later, there’s nothing for them to eat when they wake up.

Anonymous 0 Comments

they can, they do, it can even be a problem that native pollinators prefer the invasive plants and preferentially pollinate them, helping them to outcompete the native plants. It can also be the case that non-native plants aren’t accesible to native pollinators or are of less value as a source of nectar and pollen and when they replace the native plants the native pollinators starve.

Anonymous 0 Comments

If you have the time are really interested, Doug Tallamy has a cool YouTube video on it (and many other native plant related things as well).

But for the ELI5, a lot of pollinators are what are called “specialized”, which means they only feed or live on one or two plants, and no others. If those plants aren’t around any more, the pollinator dies. They die even if there are other plants around with similar nectar or pollen.

Also, it looks like even the pollinators that are not called specialized (generalists) are still very picky and will only feed or live on the plants they have fed or lived on for many, many years.

Anonymous 0 Comments

No, all pollen is not the same. They have different proteins and micronutrients. Wrong pollen and some insects will disappear leading to a domino effect of destruction to your ecosystem. This is one of the reasons invasive should be eliminated.