This week, we did an experiment to see what makes an insect a good pollinator. We knew that certain bugs made good pollinators, but why? So, we set up an experiment using one main "flower" which was a bowl with baking soda, and three smaller "flowers" to pollinate, which were smaller cups. We labeled our cups and tested three different materials to simulate our pollinators: tape, base ten rods, and pipe cleaners.
Potential Pollinator #1: Slugs
We often find slugs around our gardens, and to test to see if slugs would be good pollinators, we used pieces of tape to simulate their sticky skin. We had 1 minute to stick the tape in the "pollen" of our main flower and try to transfer it to our smaller flowers.
We found that while lots of pollen stuck to our pollinators in the first flower, it was hard to get the pollen to transfer to the second flower because it was too sticky and it wouldn't come off!
Potential Pollinator #2: Ladybugs and Beetles
We also find lots of ladybugs and beetles in our gardens, so would they make good pollinators? We used base ten rods to simulate their hard shells and used them to try to pollinate our second smaller flower with the pollen from our main flower.
Unlike the tape, the base ten rods were not sticky, so while it was easy to get the pollen off the base ten rods, there wasn't much that stuck to them in the first place.
Potential Pollinator #3: Bees and Butterflies
Lastly, we used pipe cleaners to simulate the fuzz on bees and butterflies to pollinate our flowers.
We noticed the pipe cleaners were able to pick up quite a pit of pollen in their fuzz, and it was much easier to transfer the pollen because it wasn't sticky like the tape, so the pollen came off the pipe cleaner much more easily.
Flowers attract insects such as bees and butterflies with their bright colors and nectar because they are the best pollinators, so not only do the bees and butterflies get a meal from the flowers, but they are helping the flowers as well!