The idea that flying insects might be electrically charged during flight bywas suggested almost 100 years ago. (Heuschmann, O. (1929). Über die elektrischen Eigenschaften der Insekten Haare, Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology, 10(4), 594- 664.)
Because static can attract small particles, its possible role in assisting pollination by attracting pollen grains is currently being investigated.
A year-2000 review study looked at progress so far in understanding electrical pollination :
The possible involvement of electrostatic phenomena in pollination processes in nature has been a subject of discussion and speculation for the last 20 years. The theory of the electrostatic aspect of pollination describing the effect of a charged bee approaching a flower, has been widely known for many years, but only recently has its occurrence in nature been partially confirmed.
However, much more research is required, to elucidate the relevant phenomena, in both natural and agricultural systems.
Source : Pollen and Pollination (pp.133-142)
To date, many insect species have been checked, including bees, bumblebees and house flies (hummingbirds have also been tested). They tend to have electrical charges in the low tens of pico Coulombs, usually positive (i.e. lacking electrons as compared with the environment)
It's currently unknown whether electrostatics play a very major part in pollination, a very minor part, or somewhere in between.
Ideas for new topics, and suggested additions / corrections for old ones, are always welcome.
If you have skills or interests in a particular field, and have suggestions for Wikenigma, get in touch !
Or, if you'd like to become a regular contributor . . . request a login password. Registered users can edit the entire content of the site, and also create new pages.
( The 'Notes for contributors' section in the main menu has further information and guidelines etc.)