Pollination is a fundamental natural process that allows plants to reproduce.
Pollen, which contains the plant’s genetic material, must travel from the male part of a flower to the female part of another flower of the same species to achieve fertilization.
Most commonly, this requires a pollinator — an organism that will physically transfer the pollen between flowers. Several animals act as pollinators, including birds and bats, but the majority of them are insects.
About 75 percent of the world’s crops, including staples such as apples, chocolate, carrots and coffee, depend at least in part on pollination, according to a report released by the United Nations. The estimated value of food produced with the help of pollinators is between $235 billion and $577 billion a year.
But many pollinators are under threat, particularly insects like bees and butterflies. They belong to a group — invertebrate pollinators — in which 40 percent of species …