Biodiversity Online Hogweed Visitors


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Hogweed Visitors

Kurt Jackson, 2021

Oil on monoprint, 22cm x 22cm


Professor Geraldine Wright: Research

Professor Geraldine Wright is a HOPE Professor of Entomology at the Department of Zoology. 

Her research focuses on the study of how insects detect, learn about, and regulate their intake of nutrients.


Professor Geraldine Wright: Response

"Bees and flies forage on hogweed umbels for nectar and pollen. The Latin root of the hogweed family name, Apiaceae, relates to bees (i.e. the Latin name for 'bee' is 'apis'), but this image reveals that most of the visitors to hogweed flowers are flies. Several fly species are depicted including Syrphids (hoverflies) and Calliphorids (blowflies). 

It is interesting that some flower-visiting flies mimic the colouration of bees. Batesian mimicry, or defensive colouration, has evolved to protect flies from predation. It works best when mimic flies live in proximity to their models. On the particular flower depicted here, bees and flies forage side-by-side."


What is pollination?

Pollination fertilizes the flowers of plants by transporting pollen from male reproductive organs (stamens) to female reproductive organs (pistals). Pollination allows for sexual reproduction to take place, causing the flower of the plant to yield seeds and fruits.

Pollination can be abiotic or biotic. Abiotic pollination does not involve animals and is usually achieved by wind and sometimes water. Biotic pollination is mediated by animals and accounts for 80% of all pollination. This can be carried out by animals such as birds, bats and even lizards. However, the vast majority of biotic pollination requires insects.


Flesh-Eating and Blood-Sucking Pollinators

Calliphoridae, commonly known as blowflies, include species of bluebottle and greenbottle flies. Females of these species lay batches of 100-200 eggs, typically on carrion, dung, refuse or in open wounds. 

The adults need a lot of energy to search for carrion upon which to lay and produce vast quantities of eggs. Adults use the nectar of flowers as a food source. As they fly between flowers in search of food, they pollinate them incidentally; transferring the pollen that gets stuck to their bristles.


Common green colonel fly, Oplodontha viridula

Western honey bee, Apis melifera

Ashy mining bee, Andrena cineraria

Yellow-faced blowfly, Cynomya mortuorum