It was recently discovered that butterflies play yet another important role! The majestic butterfly has been linked to pollination of the flame azalea.
“In order for a plant to reproduce, a pollinator — usually an insect — has to spread the pollen from the anther to the stigma,” said Mary Jane Epps, a biologist at North Carolina State University and a study author.
Dr. Epps also states that the distance between the anther (male pollen) and the stigma (female germinator) are too far apart for other insects, such as a pollinator bee, “to come into contact with both anther and stigma during a visit.”
And in flies the butterfly! The rapid movement of butterfly wings allows the transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma. Neato!
The findings come from The American Naturalist, a world leading publication on ecology, evolution, and behavior research.