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Air Pollution Reduces the Ability for Butterflies and Bees to Pollinate Flowers and Crops, Study Finds

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The buzzing creatures will no longer be able to pollinate the crops if they are exposed to pollutants. The contaminated atmosphere has confused some insects to sniff and sip nectar. Bees and butterflies are the major means of pollination. This transportation will help farmers to spread their crops on a vast area. Recently, a study has revealed that common air pollutants make it hard for insects to smell and sniff. This reeking retardation in turn affects the pollination and cultivation of crops. 

A group of scientists from the University of Birmingham and the University of Reading, the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology confirm that around 70% fewer pollinators and 90% fewer flower visits are noticed when the atmosphere is laden with common pollutants like diesel fumes and ozone, etc. This accumulation of toxic materials counts to an overall pollination reduction of about 31% in experimental plants. 

To investigate the issue, scientists have carried out experiments in a controlled field where bees, flies, moths, and butterflies are abundant. It is, in fact, noticed that the frequency of insect visits to the flowers was 80 percent lower where pollutants like ozone (03) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) were present compared to the regions where these pollutants were not present.

According to the study published in the journal Environmental Pollution, these pollutants change the scents of flowers in a way that insects could not detect their smell.

Surprisingly. air pollution can reduce the abundance of seven major pollinator groups, however, three groups including beetles, true bugs, and parasitic wasps are not affected by these toxic substances.

Dr. James Ryalls and Dr. Robbie Girling from the University of Reading talked to ABC.

"If this problem is demonstrated more widely and grows in severity, it is certainly likely to have negative consequences for the yields of many insect-pollinated crops."