What Insects Gather Nectar?

Updated June 13, 2017

Nectar is a sweet substance secreted by plants to attract pollinators, insects and animals that collect nectar from the plant. In addition to insects, hummingbirds and bats are also common plant pollinators. In return for collecting nectar from plants and flowers, insects inadvertently collect nectar and pollen on their bodies, which they spread to other plants when they move.

Pollinators in Order Hymenoptera

Insects in the order Hymenoptera include bees, ants and wasps. Pollen wasps and female bees will collect pollen and nectar onto their bodies and use it in their nests. These insects' larvae will feed on the nectar. As these insects move among different plants, they spread pollen and nectar from the stamen, the male part of the plant, to the stigma, the female part of the plant.

Pollinators in Order Lepidoptera

Insects that collect nectar in the order of Lepidoptera include butterflies and moths. They collect nectar from flowers and plants through the proboscis, or their extended tongues, for food. Certain species of butterfly, such as the Zebra butterfly, collect pollen and nectar with their tongues and store it as energy for up to six months, enabling them to mate and lay eggs. Plants that contain nectar such as lavender, zinnias and violas can attract butterflies and moths to your garden.

Insects in the Order Diptera

Flies and mosquitoes in the order Diptera can also pollinate plants and flowers and collect nectar. Like butterflies and moths, flies also use the proboscis to collect nectar. Females in the order Diptera usually subsist on blood in order to lay eggs, while males usually feed on nectar and pollen. Some types of flies, such as the hover fly, resemble nectar-collecting insects of other orders like bees.

Insects in the Order Coleoptera

Beetles in the order Coleoptera also collect nectar and assist in plant pollination. Like bees and wasps, beetles use the nectar to feed themselves and their larvae. Beetles, according to the American Museum of National History, are drawn to flowers where the nectar is easily accessible and the flower is shaped like a shallow bowl. Beetles are drawn to white or off-white flowers for nectar.

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About the Author

Candice Coleman worked in the public school system as a middle school and high school substitute teacher. In addition to teaching, she is also a tutor for high school and college students.