A surprising diversity of insects are responsible for pollination of plants. This exhibit highlights these pollinators and shares some of our favorite pollination facts.

There are more than 100,000 species of pollinators on the planet, and they are vital to maintaining healthy ecosystems and well-functioning economies. Why? Because most flowering plants — including many agricultural species — rely on insects for pollination. Did you know that ...

  • Alfalfa is a common feed for livestock in North America? Alfalfa leafcutting bees, Megachile rotundata, are uniquely responsible for alfalfa pollination and play a crucial role in the process of putting meat and dairy on our tables.
  • The cocoa tree, which yields many ingredients for our beloved chocolate, is pollinated by tiny flies called no-see-ums or biting midges? 
  • Vanilla beans, which are produced by an orchid, result from pollination by a species of stingless bee? Vanilla is currently the second most expensive spice, due to a lack of pollinators outside of the orchid’s native range, and now requires hand pollination by humans to meet consumer demand.

Insects pollinate by transporting pollen, allowing plants to make seeds. A pollinator does not intend to pollinate. Pollination happens because pollinators are interacting with plants for other reasons, like searching for food or collecting plant oils. Likewise, a plant's intention is not to feed pollinators, but to lure them to ferry the plant's pollen from flower to flower. Plants and pollinators have coevolved for millions of years, and their complex relationship has given rise to the many species of plants and flowers we see today.

Find out more by visiting the exhibit in person or by visiting Penn State's Center for Pollinator Research.

The Frost Entomological Museum


160 Curtin Rd.
State College, PA 16802

Hours: Monday-Friday 10am-4pm