Molecular Ecology
Principal Investigator

Have you captured photos of orchid pollinators?

Have you captured photos of orchid pollinators?


Surprisingly, over half of the orchids native to the US and Canada have no known pollinators, and those where pollinators are known are often described from very few locations. We have seen many great photos of orchid pollinators posted online and we thought it would be great to include the information from those photos in our current research study. For this purpose, we are requesting pictures of orchid pollinators, especially pollinators with pollinia (packets of pollen, see right-most image, above) attached to their bodies.    

If you want to contribute to this exciting research, please send us your pictures of naturally-occurring orchids native to the U.S. and Canada with orchid species, location, pollinator species (if known), and date the photo was taken. Location and date can be approximate. Locations will remain confidential, but more accurate locations can be used to understand the impact of surrounding land use. Additional information on the approximate number of orchids flowering at the site is also very helpful. We want to determine how orchid pollinators differ among sites and to identify pollinators for orchids without known pollinators. Your photos will be used for research only. We will not publish any photos without your express permission. Some information obtained from your photo (pollinator/orchid ID, generalized location) may contribute to published scientific papers. If information from your photos directly results in information used in a scientific paper, we can acknowledge your contributions with your name if you desire. 

This study is being carried out by researchers at the Smithsonian Institution, Texas A&M University, and George Mason University, collaborating through the North American Orchid Conservation Center. We will use pollinator information from these photos to expand the results of our own pollinator video study to understand how spatial variation in pollinator communities has contributed to the diversification of North American orchids and how variability in orchid-pollinator relationships may lead to population-level orchid vulnerability in the future. We expect this to result in a scientific publication and to add more pollinator information to the Go Orchids website (

If you want to contribute to our research, please send your pictures, with orchid species, date, location, and pollinator species (if known) to: You can also email with questions.

Thank you!!!

Melissa McCormick, Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, NAOCC
Monica Marcelli, George Mason University
Lydia Morley, Texas A&M University
Daniel Spalink, Texas A&M University

Research Topics & Subthemes
Orchids, Fungi & Symbioses