A Mushroom–Like Plant Is Pollinated By A Strange Insect And Other Creatures

November 17th, 2017

A Mushroom–Like Plant Is Pollinated By A Strange Insect And Other Creatures

Pollination is so important to the world economy that a global crisis would ensue if pollinating bugs were to disappear. We all know that flying insects such as honeybees and bumblebees are major plant pollinators. However, it would be a mistake to assume that only bees and a few other insects like butterflies are in charge of all the world’s pollination duties. For example, bats pollinate several types of bananas. And even an obscure species known as banksia is pollinated by opossums. Slugs have also been seen pollinating a variety of European plants. This slug-pollination is widely taught at colleges and universities, but there are a few problems with this phenomenon. Nobody knows for sure if slugs pollinate plants. It is important to know that visiting plants does not mean that animals are pollinating plants. Slugs have been found feeding off of the leaves of several plant species. In fact these slugs may even be damaging plants without pollinating them. For a long time researchers were sure that slugs were pollinating the flowers of Aspidistra elatior, but now it looks like this may not be the case, and maybe slugs are not pollinators at all. Recent research has shown that this flower is pollinated by fungus gnats.

Fungus gnats are known for feeding on mushrooms. As it happens, the flowers of Aspidistra elatior look very much like fungus, which is probably why fungus gnats pollinate these flowers. Back in 2009 there was a report made claiming that fungus gnats were pollinating the fungus-like flowers. Initially, this report was dismissed by experts. But now it looks like this single report had some truth to it. Entomologists working within Japan have conducted field studies that show fungus gnats bringing pollen to A. elatior flowers from other flowers. This proved that fungus gnats were the true pollinators. This flowering plant may look like fungus, but it is not pollinated by slugs, and the plant is not as mysterious as many researchers had previously thought.

Do you think that slugs pollinate any types of flowers at all?

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November 2017