Pollinator Highlights at the Wild Gardens of Acadia

Keep your eyes peeled for these hard-working pollinators.
Text and images by Oleander Morrill, 2023 Wild Gardens of Acadia intern

Bee-mimic Beetle

(Photos by Oleander M Photos)

Bee-mimic Beetle (Trichiotinus assimilis) pictured on a Pasture Rose (Rosa carolina)

A species of scarab beetle, the bee-mimic beetle is entirely harmless and, despite what you may think from its appearance, cannot sting. This beetle has what is called Batesian mimicry to ward off predators. That is, through evolution, these insects have gained protection by looking like an unpalatable species. Bee-mimic beetles are found throughout much of North America. Other common names include the hairy flower scarab or flower chafer.

Reference: www.inaturalist.org/taxa/232874-Trichiotinus-assimilis

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

(Photos by Oleander M Photos)

Ruby-throated Hummingbird (Archilochus colubris) pictured on a Canada Lily (Lilium canadense)

When you think of a pollinator, you might not think of a bird species, but some birds are key pollinators. In Maine, the ruby-throated is the only common hummingbird, and they are the primary pollinators of Canada lilies. The hummingbird’s long beak and its incredible ability to hover in place enable these birds to extract nectar from the downward-facing trumpets of these flowers. Ruby-throated hummingbirds also feed on small insects and spiders. During breeding season, they range throughout eastern US and Canada and winter in Central America.

Reference: www.inaturalist.org/taxa/6432-Archilochus-colubris

Hobomok Skipper

(Photos by Oleander M Photos)

Hobomok Skipper (Lon hobomok) pictured on a Larger Blue Flag (Iris versicolor)

The Hobomok skipper is a small butterfly found throughout much of northeastern and central United States and southern Canada. Butterflies such as these skippers use an elongated mouthpart called a proboscis, which acts almost like a built-in straw—to drink the nectar from flowers. Characterized by orange wings with sections of brown on males and a lighter brown with small white spots on females, the Hobomok skipper is one of many native skipper species in Maine.

Reference: www.inaturalist.org/taxa/1081323-Lon-hobomok

Hairy-eyed Mimic Fly

(Photos by Oleander M Photos)

Hairy-eyed Mimic Fly (Mallota posticata) pictured on Tall Meadow-rue (Thalictrum pubescens)

This pollinator’s physical characteristics give it a similar look to bumblebees. Despite their appearance, these flies cannot bite or sting, but their merely looking like an insect that can sting keeps predators away–a form of defense called Batesian mimicry. To distinguish between a real bumblebee and mimic flies like this, look at the head: Hairy-eyed mimic flies have very large compound eyes that wrap around the top of their head and allows them to see in nearly every direction. Bees, on the other hand, have comparatively smaller eyes located on the sides of their head. Flies also have two short antennae located close together at the center of the head below their eyes, while bumblebees have two longer antennae that are further apart.

Reference: www.inaturalist.org/taxa/418601-Mallota-posticata