Park Pollinators 2020
Over thousands of years, pollinators found in Madison Square Park have coevolved with regional plants to transfer pollen between male and female flower parts. In return, the pollinators feed on nectar for energy and pollen for protein, keeping them alive throughout their lifecycle.
Here are a few pollinators you can find in Madison Square Park:
Bees: Apis mellifera (Western Honey Bee)
The western honey bee is a bit of a polarizing species within the bee community. While these bees are a vital pollinator for many wild plants and the global agricultural industry, they are non native to North America. Because of this, they will often out compete native species for resources, threatening their existence and the global ecosystem. Because they have a generalist diet, you can spot western honey bees around almost any flower in the Park. In addition to honey bees, the Park is also a host for many native species of bees like mason bees, leafcutter bees, and carpenter bees.
Flies: Eupeodes latifasciatus (Variable Aphideater)
When someone refers to a fly, most of us immediately conjure up images of the pesky house fly, but like us, flies come in all shapes and sizes. Many hoverflies or flowerflies like the Eupeodes latifasciatus actually mimic the appearance of bees to avoid predators, and like bees they are also a very important pollinator in a healthy ecosystem. Like other pollinators, flies rely on a reliable food supply of nectar and pollen. Additionally, the Variable Aphideater larvae is also a natural predator to aphids and other plantsucking insects that can potentially damage plants at the Park. The aphideater and other hoverflies can be found in the Park throughout the year but are more active during the spring to winter months.
Butterflies: Papilio glaucus (Eastern Tiger Swallowtail)
Butterflies and moths are some of the most charismatic pollinators, and a keystone species for a happy and healthy ecosystem. The Papilio glaucus is an especially charismatic species due the radiant yellow wings and contrasting black tiger stripes that give it it’s common name. While both males and females come in this form, the female can also come in a mostly black variant. Eastern Tiger Swallowtails inhabit the region from May through September, where adults will nectar on plants like cherry laurel (photographed) and milkweed. Keep an eye for swallowtails, monarchs, and other butterflies and moths from summer through the fall.
Beetles: Coccinella sp. (Lady Beetle)
Another natural predator of the aphid, Lady Beetles are some of the cutest pollinators at the Park. Their small frame allows them to feed on nectar and pollen from tightly constructed flowers that larger bees and butterflies cannot reach. Lady beetles also have a tremendous appetite for aphids, and consume up to 5,000 aphids in a lifetime! As they search for the tiny leaf suckers, lady beetles inadvertently carry pollen from flower to flower and protect many plants from an over infestation of aphids.
Local naturalists, birders, and online data collection platforms such as iNaturalist and eBird help us track biodiversity. To learn more about the insects and other flora and fauna throughout Madison Square Park, visit iNaturalist and eBird, or read more about our ongoing initiative to support our local wildlife.