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Flowers and Their Animal Pollinators

Animals play an important part in pollinating flowers. During the growing season, from early spring to late summer, animals visit flowers to gather the nectar and pollen they use as food. As they move about collecting their food, they transfer pollen from one flower to another. Two flower characteristics, color and odor, are important in determining which flowers they visit. For example, flowers that are red or yellow and have little odor tend to be pollinated by birds, flowers that are yellow or blue and have sweet odors tend to be pollinated by bees, and flowers that are white or neutral colored with unpleasant odors tend to be pollinated by beetles.

A window-box garden will help you find out which flowers attract a particular kind of animal. To create your garden, select potted flowers and flowering herbs with a variety of colors and odors. Arrange the pots in your window box so that you can see all the flowers clearly from inside your home.

Set aside a specific time to observe your garden each day. Although some animals gather their food at night, most pollinators are active from early morning to midmorning. For your protection, be sure to watch from behind a closed window or screen. In a notebook, keep track of the visitors to each flower, including what kind, how many, and at what time of day the visitors appeared. The results of your observations will change if you add more flowers to your garden, substitute flowers of different colors and odors, or vary the time of day that you observe it.

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