Pollination

Insect pollination is very important in agriculture (Free 1970). To set fruit adequately for a profitable crop, many cultivated plants require pollination by insects, whose presence in plantations is encouraged by growers. Honeybees have long been recognized as valuable in this way, and hives are purposely placed in fields and orchards to increase seed and fruit set (Martin and McGregor 1973).

The cacao tree is pollinated chiefly by punkie flies of the genus Forcipomyia (A. Young 1986; see punkies, chap. 11) and adult gall midges (A. Young 1985). Because many of these are bromeliad tank breeders, the proximity of these plants is essential to successful cacao fruiting (Privat 1979). Although common on the plants, ants and Homoptera and other insects are probably not important (Winder 1978).

The introduced oil palm (Elaeis guine-ensis) has been found to depend on certain fruit beetles (Nitidulidae—Mystrops, Hap-toncus) for pollination. Formerly thought to be pestiferous, they are now welcomed in areas where this valuable tree is cultivated (Genty et al. 1986). Nitidulid and scarab beetles, weevils, and other insect pollinators are equally important to native palms (Barfod et al. 1987, Beach 1984), which are assuming use as oil producers in some areas.

The Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia exceha) apparently depends on euglossine bees for pollination. Only large species are capable of uncurling the floral androecium (protective hood around the anthers) (Nelson et al. 1985).

References

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