Spotlight on Pollinators in Northern Virginia

Pollinators play a vital role in our ecosystems. Most plants rely on them to reproduce. In Northern Virginia, a diverse range of pollinators buzz, flutter, and soar, working tirelessly to ensure the continuation of plant life. We hope this blog post will help you identify the essential pollinators that call this region home. For premium quality pest control and wildlife removal contact Summit at 703-337-3686.

The Diversity of Pollinators in Northern Virginia

Pollinators in Northern Virginia come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Each plays a unique role in transferring pollen from one flower to another, enabling plants to bear fruit and produce seeds. Over time plants have co-evolved with the insect community. Over the course of natural selection, plants have developed highly specialized flower structures or characteristics that enable only pollinators with a corresponding specialization to actually pollinate them.

Native Bees


Native bees are some of the most dedicated pollinators around. Even when their presence is undesirable, native bees are important pollinators for fruits and vegetables. 

Look for these telltale signs to identify different species:

  • Bumblebees: Large, fuzzy bodies with vibrant black and yellow stripes.
  • Mason Bees: Small, metallic blue or green bodies with a gentle, non-aggressive nature.
  • Carpenter Bees: Resemble bumblebees but have a shiny, hairless abdomen

Butterflies and Moths

Butterflies are well-known pollinators that are idolized for their beauty and metamorphosis. Their lesser-appreciated cousins, moths, also significantly contribute to pollination. Some plants have evolved long stamen. Butterflies and moths have a specialized mouthpart shaped like tubes called a proboscis. Perfect for getting into flowers with long stamen such as honeysuckle. As a butterfly or moth nectars on the flowers, its flapping wings tap the anthers and release chains of pollen that stick to the wings. The pollen is then transferred with more wingbeats onto the female part of the flower. In Northern Virginia, these are some butterflies and moths to keep an eye out for:

  • Eastern Tiger Swallowtails: Pale yellow and black with distinct black stripes and wing markings shaped like a tiger eye.
  • Monarch Butterflies: Vibrant orange with distinct black veins and white spots.
  • Sphinx Moths: Sleek, hovering fliers. Often mistaken for hummingbirds due to their rapid wing beats.

The Lesser-Known Pollinators: Beetles and Flies


While they might not be your initial thought, beetles and flies are often the first pollinators of a flower. They are attracted to the scent of the flower, not only the nectar. Beetles rely on their sense of smell for feeding as well as finding a place to lay eggs. Beetles will eat their way through petals and all other floral parts. They even defecate within flowers, earning them the nickname “mess and soil” pollinators. The term “flies” refers to any two-winged insect such as gnats, mosquitos, etc. It’s a very large group! Did you know mosquitos are pollinators? Specifically, they pollinate bog orchids. Some other overlooked pollinators in Northern Virginia include:

  • Flower Beetles: Small, round bodies and vibrant colors like green, gold, or red.
  • Blister beetles: Size of an almond, all black, oval-shaped head.
  • Hoverflies: Resemble small bees but have distinct hovering behavior and intricate striping patterns.
  • Green Bottle Flies: Slightly larger than a house fly, metallic, blue-green, or golden coloration with black markings.

Wasps and Their Unrecognized Pollination Role


Wasps are in the same family as ants and bees. Not every species of wasps can sting. Not all wasps are villains; some are pollination heroes. Learn to differentiate:

Pollinator Wasps: Slender bodies with bright colors and less aggressive behavior.
Stinging Wasps: Typically possess bold black and yellow patterns, and they're more aggressive.

Wasps are less efficient pollinators than bees. This is because Wasps are not covered in hairs the way that bees are so pollen is less likely to stick to their bodies and be moved from flower to flower. Some wasps you may see pollinating in Northern Virginia include:

  • Paper wasps: narrow-waisted wasps with smoky black wings that are folded lengthwise when at rest. Paper wasps can sting and may be aggressive if threatened.
  • Yellow Jackets: yellow and black stripes zigzag down its entire body from head to abdomen. Yellow Jackets are very aggressive.
  • Bald-Faced Hornets: Largely black color and mostly white face. Bald-Faced Hornets are very aggressive.

Be careful! These wasps can be aggressive and will sting repeatedly if threatened! Check out these HUGE Bald-Faced Hornet nests we professionally removed in Fredericksburg VA:

Now you know that bees, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies, and wasps are common pollinators found in Northern Virginia. Some of them are not desirable to have around. If you’re in need of top-tier pest control services, trust Summit to provide premium quality solutions every time.

If you need Wildlife removal, stinging insect removal, or general pest control in Fredericksburg, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and the surrounding areas contact Summit at 703-337-3686 to get the job done right.

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