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3352RE: [beemonitoring] Monarchs/Butterflies/Skippers as pollinators

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  • Stillwaugh, Donald M
    May 15, 2014

      Liz, Peter and all,


      I was a student of the late Dr. Betz at NEIU and spent some time in his lab helping to count pollinia on bee specimens….fond memories.


      Keeping to the broader subject, swallowtails do some significant pollination of Lilium spp. Mark Skinner wrote a seminal work - Skinner, M. W. 1988. Comparative Pollination Ecology and Floral Evolution in Pacific Coast Lilium. Ph.D. dissertation. Harvard University.


      I spent many seasons monitoring Catesby’s lilies here in Florida and made hundreds of incidental visitation observations with Papilio palamedes doing the lion’s share followed by P. troilus. Having come across Mark’s wonderful work, our Environmental Lands research group was in the process of working out methodologies for some pollination studies when the economy tanked. Sadly, most of our positions were eliminated and no study ever materialized. I do still have some nice images clearly showing yellow pollen on the butterfly’s wing tips (nectar at base of sepals is some 3 – 4 inches removed from tips of anthers, thus a large vector is needed for pollination).


      Best Regards,




      Donald Stillwaugh
      Pinellas County Utilities Solid Waste
      All government correspondence is subject to the public records law.


      From: beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com [mailto:beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com]
      Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2014 11:36 AM
      To: Jack Neff
      Cc: Peter Bernhardt; Bee United
      Subject: Re: [beemonitoring] Monarchs/Butterflies/Skippers as pollinators



      Yes - I also thought it was interesting that 'larger' swallow-tail butterflies seemed to be more effective at transferring pollinia.


      Cheers, Liz


      On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 11:32 AM, Jack Neff <jlnatctmi@...> wrote:

      A little confusing since the paper apparently claims among leps, only Papilionidae (not Papilionaceae) pollinate milkweeds but the monarch is a nymphalid


      John L. Neff
      Central Texas Melittological Institute
      7307 Running Rope) 
      Austin,TX 78731 USA

      On Thursday, May 15, 2014 10:23 AM, "Peter Bernhardt bernhap2@... [beemonitoring]" <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


      Dear Elizabeth:


      Good, you found Betz et al (1994).  Like it, or not, it remains the most important publication on which insects transport the pollinaria of specific milkweed species.

      Here's the big problem.  We know which insects carry pollinaria of Asclepias species but we still can't predict which insects forage on the milkweed flowers in such a way that they transfer the pollinia to stigma slots in the flowers.  Unfortunately, some insects may be good removers of the pollinaria but bad inserters and this is critical to cross-pollination.




      On Thu, May 15, 2014 at 9:30 AM, 'Sellers, Elizabeth' esellers@... [beemonitoring] <beemonitoring@yahoogroups.com> wrote:


      Somebody else may have already shared this - so I apologize if I'm duplicating someone's post. I sent this reference to Sam privately yesterday as I was experiencing technical difficulties with posting to the Yahoo Group. I am currently in the middle of the 'monarchs an\s pollinators' furor and so had to do similar research myself. This is a rather useful publication that I found, and which answered my questions sufficiently concerning monarch contributions specifically to pollinating milkweeds (Asclepias)...


      From the abstract: "The most important pollinators, such as the exotic honey bee (Apis mellifera), bumblebees (Bombus), large wasps (Sphex, Tachytes, Myzinum, and Polistes), and large butterflies (Papilio), not only carried relatively large numbers of pollinial sacs extracted from donor flowers, but apparently inserted large numbers of pollinial sacs into the stigmatic chambers of recipient flowers."


      From Pg. 51: "Apidae, Sphecidae, and Papilionaceae were the only families pollinating A. exaltata (poke milkweed), A. hirtella (tall green milkweed), A. meadii (Mead's milkweed), A. purpurascens (purple milkweed), A. sullivantii (Sullivant's milkweed), and A. viridiflora (short green milkweed). For most of the other milkweeds this group of three families constituted at least 90% of the pollinators."


      REF: Betz, R. F., Struven, R. D., Wall, J. E., and F. B. Heitler. 1994. Insect Pollinators of 12 milkweed (Asclepias) Species. Proceedings of the Thirteenth North American Prairie Conference : spirit of the land, our prairie legacy : held 6-9 August 1992, Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Pp. 45-60.  http://images.library.wisc.edu/EcoNatRes/EFacs/NAPC/NAPC13/reference/econatres.napc13.rbetz.pdf

      Cheers, Liz


      Elizabeth Sellers


      Eco-Science Synthesis (ESS)

      Core Science Analytics and Synthesis (CSAS)

      BISON Data Team; USGS Liaison to the Plant Conservation Alliance

      United States Geological Survey (USGS)

      12201 Sunrise Valley Drive, Mail Stop 302

      Reston, VA 20192  USA

      Room 2A231C

      703.648.4385  esellers@...


      Looking for species occurrence data for the U.S.? Check out:

      Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON) http://bison.usgs.ornl.gov/





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