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3340Re: [beemonitoring] Monarchs/Butterflies/Skippers as pollinators

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  • Jack Neff
    May 14, 2014
      Two not particularly recent and not highly convincing papers claiming that leps tend to be lame pollinators are: Jennersten, O.  1984.  Flower visitation and pollination efficiency of some North European butterflies.  Oecologia 63: 80-89. 1984.  and  B. A. B. Venables & E. M. Barrows.  1985.  Skippers: pollinators or nectar thieves.  Journal of the Lepidopterists' Society. 39: 299-312.  Obviously, in some plants like many Phlox or Lantana spp, butterflies are the whole show while in some others systems like Ipomoea cordatotriloba (as I. trichocarpa), butterflies contribute essentially nothing to the pollination system despite being the most abundant floral visitors (E. E. Spears, 1983. A direct measure of pollinator effectiveness.  Oecologia 57: 196-199). 
      Most of the vast Asclepias literature suggests larger hymenopterans (Bombus, Xylocopa, Pepsis and so forth) are the main pollinators in most cases.



      John L. Neff
      Central Texas Melittological Institute
      7307 Running Rope
      Austin,TX 78731 USA
      On Wednesday, May 14, 2014 3:53 PM, "Doug Yanega dyanega@... [beemonitoring]" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com> wrote:
      On 5/14/14 12:52 PM, 'Droege, Sam' sdroege@... [beemonitoring] wrote:

      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...

      I remembering helping someone who was reviewing the pollination of asclepiads, and IIRC the vast majority of pollination was achieved via large hymenopterans such as Pepsis, sphecids, tiphiids, and Bombus, among others. Monarchs were among the butterfly visitors, but not the only ones, and even cumulatively I believe butterflies were a small minority component. Aside from a few highly specialized associations outside of the US (like Gurania and Heliconius), I can't recall ever hearing of a plant where under natural conditions the primary pollinators (in terms of seed set, etc., as opposed to simple visitation counts) were butterflies. Moths, sure, tons of those - but not butterflies.

      Doug Yanega      Dept. of Entomology       Entomology Research Museum
      Univ. of California, Riverside, CA 92521-0314     skype: dyanega
      phone: (951) 827-4315 (disclaimer: opinions are mine, not UCR's)
        "There are some enterprises in which a careful disorderliness
              is the true method" - Herman Melville, Moby Dick, Chap. 82

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