Insects that are Pollinators for Orchids

Dun skipper on small purple fringed-orchid - note the skipper's proboscis in these 2 photos, taken 6 seconds apart, on 2003july19, near BuffaloPoint.  Skippers are pollinators for this species, small purple fringed-orchid, Platanthera psycodes, among others. The skipper in these photos is a dun skipper, Euphyes vestris = E.ruricola.

Ichneumon wasp - 3 photos from 2001june24 in Gardenton MB:  photo-1 shows an ichneumon wasp with its ovipositor against the abdomen to guide it into the wood below;  photo-2 shows a different species of ichneumon wasp with its long ovipositor extending to the rear (right out of the picture at the lower left;  photo-3 shows the same ichneumon wasp as photo-2 with its ovipositor coiled in a sac (intersegmental membrane) to guide it into the wood below (it seems to be like a rotorooter so long that it needs to be coiled so it doesn't get out of control).  The female drills into wood in order to lay an egg on the larva of a woodboring beetle, which will then be parasitized by the ichneumon larva.  Ichneumon wasps are reported as pollinators for striped coral-root, Corallorhiza striata.  For more information on these wasps, see

Bumblebee on yellow lady's-slipper - bumblebees are reported as pollinators for calypso, moccasin-flower, both rattlesnake-orchids, Platanthera huronensis, rose pogonia, all 3 ladies-tresses.

Andrenid bee on Cypripedium montanum, in Oregon - note the path being taken by the emerging bee;  andrenid bees are reported as pollinators for spotted coral-root (Corallorhiza maculata), and small white lady's-slipper (Cypripedium candidum).  Photo by Nan Vance of USDA Forest Service.

Mosquito on early coral-root - mosquito is reported as a pollinator for blunt-leaf rein-orchid; it may be a pollinator for the photographed species, Corallorhiza trifida.

Syrphid flies on smooth camas, on water hemlock, on goldenrod, and on lingonberry - syrphid flies, also known as hover-flies, flower-flies, or bee-flies, are reported as pollinators for early coral-root, and are possible pollinators for several other orchid species.  Syrphidae are a varied family, some are frequently mistaken for bees, others for wasps, and some are unmistakably flies.  These photos show at least 3 kinds: the one on camas may be from the genus Microdon; the one on water hemlock may be a drone-fly, genus Eristalis, the larva of which is known as a rat-tailed maggot.

Self-pollinating orchids: some of our native orchids do not require an insect pollinator; they are Corallorhiza trifida, Cypripedium passerinum, Liparis loeselii, Platanthera aquilonis, Platanthera huronensis.