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3337Re: [beemonitoring] Monarchs/Butterflies/Skippers as pollinators

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  • David Inouye
    May 14, 2014
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      I have 55 entries in my EndNote database with keywords "butterfly" and "pollination", but only one with "skipper" and "pollination":

      Doll, S., et al. (2007). "Pollination ecology of Justicia rusbyi (Acanthaceae), a common understory plant in a tropical mountain forest in eastern Bolivia." Plant Species Biology 22(3): 211-216.
               The present study reports the species composition, behavior and ecology of floral visitors to a common understory herb, Justicia rusbyi (Acanthaceae), in a tropical mountain forest. Although the analyses were made during the peak flowering period, floral visitors were rare. In total, 22 species were observed visiting. The most frequent visitors were a small species of stingless bee (Meliponinae) and a skipper (Hesperiidae). Approximately three-quarters of all floral visitors visited only one flower during a stay. Most visitors were observed at noon and in direct sunlight, and there was a positive correlation between the number of J. rusbyi flowers displayed and the number of visitors. The nectar was found to be rich in hexose, which is unusual in bee-pollinated plants.

      At 03:52 PM 5/14/2014, you wrote:


      [Disclaimer, of sorts:  I like butterflies and have studied butterfly survey techniques in the past and own 2 pair of butterfly binoculars]

      The feds are revving up to start a pollination campaign... the details of which are currently being worked out.   This is a good thing and almost any directive will be positive.  That said, I have seen some preliminary information from the Department of Interior with a lot of Monarch efforts being mentioned/highlighted.

      Monarchs definitely are in trouble and certainly a general pollinator effort should involve monarchs and other butterflies as the umbrella is large and butterflies are generally more charismatic than the rest. Additionally, both Monarchs and other pollinating groups would benefit from the long coat tails of each other's charms.

      However, in giving talks I have found myself generally poo-pooing (to use a technical term) butterfly and skipper pollination contributions to floral reproduction.

      But, how true is that?

      So I ask 3 Questions from small to large:

      1.  Are monarchs transferring pollinia effectively on Milkweeds?
      2.  Are monarchs significant pollinators in any situation?
      3.  Does the average skipper and average butterfly play much of roll in pollination?  Skippers are low slung enought that one would suspect they are better than butterflies...



      See....Internet quotes about Monarch pollination at the end of this email.

      Sam Droege  sdroege@...                      
      w 301-497-5840 h 301-390-7759 fax 301-497-5624
      USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center
      BARC-EAST, BLDG 308, RM 124 10300 Balt. Ave., Beltsville, MD  20705

      The lepidopterist with happy cries
      Devotes his days to hunting butterflies.
      The leopard, through some feline mental twist,
      Would rather hunt a lepidopterist.
      That's why I never adopted lepidoptery.
      I do not wish to live in jeopardoptery.
                -  Ogden Nash


      Interesting Quotes from the Internet

      Monarch butterflies help to pollinate our food, especially corn!

      monarch butterflys do NOT spread pollen, because they lay their eggs on milkweed which is a non pollinated plant. the actual butterfly itself only lives for a day and its only purpose is to lay eggs. butterflys (caterpillars) are born with the eggs, and there are no "male" butterflys.... hope this helps!

      . Like most butterflies, monarchs are pollinators that play an important ecological role in maintaining biological diversity.

      If the Monarchs become extinct, what happens to the other pollinators we depend on?

      Monarch butterflies pollinate many plants,

      Bees are Not Optional
      Apes sunt et non liberum
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