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SoCal Native Pollinators

Pollinators are animals that move pollen from the anther (male part) of a flower to the stigma (female part) of a different flower. These animals help the environment by spreading the plant population. Without plants, pretty much nothing would live and that would suck. There are more types of pollinators than just European Honeybees which are the current most prominent pollinator in North America. Most people don't know that. There are bees, beetles, bats, flies, wasps, butterflies, and birds, just to name a few. You might be thinking, Why are there so many pollinators? The answer, for different climates, environments and plants. Every place has its own pollinators to adapt to the unique climate, flora and fauna. For example, the Western Tiger Swallowtail, Papilio rutulus. 

One in three bites of food you eat is because of a pollinator. 

You may not know how much your daily life affects the health of these pollinators, that wide range of helpful species accountable for some of the most important connections in the world food chain. Pollinators may be the most important group of animals ecologically and economically on our planet. They provide stability for all ecosystems in the world because plants with wildflowers depend on these bees, flies, butterflies, beetles, moths, bats, birds and other native animals to reproduce. Other wild animals then eat the fruits and seeds that result from pollination, spreading the seeds that ensure future generations of that type of plant. Most of the other wild animals in the world (including insects), and more than 250,000 plants with wildflowers, need native pollinators to exist; and, of course, that includes us, humans. The important portions of the global food supply for humans depend on the health of native pollinator populations, particularly bees, one of the main pollinator groups, though, let's not forget all the other major groups as well. But despite the great importance of pollinators, astonishing diversity and frightful crisis, these extraordinary creatures are often neglected and misunderstood. Many people simply do not recognise or appreciate the intricate ecology of plant reproduction. And perhaps most importantly, we do not value native pollinators sufficiently, whose health is essential for the health of all-natural ecosystems on all continents.

Many wild plants have evolved specifically to be pollinated only by beetles or hummingbirds, so, although great, bees can't take over all pollinators' jobs. Not to mention they're going extinct.

There are more than 20,000 species of bees described globally, and more than 4,000 of them are native to North America. This includes 46 species of bumblebees in northern Mexico, we should be working extra hard to save these bees, versus solely the European Honeybees. 

Humans have impacted the populations of pollinators in a number of ways, such as environmental changes, pesticides and herbicides, artificial lighting, climate change, and introduced and invasive species.

Pesticides are harmful to pollinators because although they do kill insects that eat crops, the pesticides also kill the bugs that are crucial to the environment too, such as butterflies, bees, spiders, and beetles. 

The lighting problem is unexpected because the most well-known pollinators work during the day, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. But there are pollinators that get confused by the streetlights at night, such as moths and beetles. When pollinators are driven away from their natural ecosystems, their concentrated energy around the lights exhausts them and makes easy pickings for whatever predators might be hunting in that ecosystem.

Humans also move people, animals and plants to new places, which disrupts ecosystems by competing with native species for resources, and can even make native species die out. 

Climate change is another challenge for pollinators because it causes seasonal patterns to change in unexpected ways. Like if some plants are blooming at a different time in the year, pollinators can be affected in a variety of ways: they might come way before or after the flowers have bloomed and have nothing to eat, or they might become confused about when to migrate and hibernate, or any other stage of their life cycle.

So what does this mean for you? Some ways that you can help are to not use pesticides, plant native plants if possible, don't squish bugs, and spread the word about the issue.


- Athena and Sierra



Coloured blood

While most animals on Earth have iron-based blood, this is not the case for some. Typically, blood is iron-based, the haemoglobin carries the oxygen to cells. The haemoglobin is made of units called "haems" these haems contain iron and their structure gives blood its red colour when oxygenated. Haemoglobin blood is dark red when not oxygenated. Not blue. I don't know who told you that, but they were wrong. Your veins appear blue as an optical illusion, red and blue have different wavelengths and therefore penetrate your skin with varying levels of success. Blue light does not penetrate as far into the tissue as red light. If the blood vessel is deep, your eyes see more blue than red reflected light due to the blood's partial absorption of red wavelengths.

Blue blood is possible, maybe not in you but in spiders, crustaceans, some molluscs, octopi and squid. The protein found in this blood is called haemocyanin. Unlike haemoglobin, which is stuck to the red blood cells, haemocyanin floats free in the blood. Instead of iron, it contains copper. When unoxygenated, haemocyanin is clear and when oxygenated, it is blue. There are some benefits to copper-based blood. Haemocyanin functions better than haemoglobin would in carrying oxygen through the molluscs' bodies in the cold, poorly oxygenated depths of the ocean. The horseshoe crab's copper-based blood is essential to the pharmaceutical companies, which harvest the creatures, remove one-third of their blood, then return them to the sea. While this is not necessarily a benefit for horseshoe crabs, it is a benefit for humans.

A very small percentage of animals have green or violet blood. These include worms, leeches, and marine worms. The green blood contains a protein called chlorocruorin, this protein is chemically similar to haemoglobin except it appears green instead of red unless the oxygen is highly concentrated. Lastly, violet blood. The violet blood is only found in select marine worms, it's primary protein is called haemerythrin. It's only 1/4 as effective as haemoglobin and when oxygenated, it is violet. Some specific creatures that have violet blood include brachiopods, peanut worms and priapulida. A rather unfortunate name if you ask me.

- Athena