The Impact of Arthropods on Pollination and Fruit Set of Keitt Mangoes
National Pollinator Week is a time to celebrate pollinators and spread the word about what we can do to protect them. The Tropical Fruit Entomology lab at TREC UF/IFAS has ongoing research on mangoes pollination.
Upon anthesis, wind and insects play an important role in the pollination of mangoes. The exact species of insects, however, is unexplored, and there is no connection between specific insects and the amount of pollen transported.
A pollinator exclusion bag used to eliminate the presence of insects to better understand the importance of arthropods to fruit set. Photo credit: Matthew Quenaudon
In response to these issues, Matthew Quenaudon, a student at TREC UF/IFAS pursuing a Masters in Entomology, is working on different experiments constructed to investigate key insect families and species and the extent to which excluding arthropods affect mango pollination. The experiments dealt with signifying the most frequent visitors, determining the duration and interaction of insects with the flower structures, and excluding arthropods through mesh bagging.
Through these experiments, Matthew expects to provide a better understanding of the insects involved with ‘Keitt’ mango pollination, fruit set, and production in the Miami-Dade agricultural area. Increasing knowledge of the insects most associated with mango may provide a way for growers to increase their yield and fruit quality through means of increase pollination. If a few insects are highly associated with pollen distribution amongst mangoes, the same kind of study can be used with various tropical fruit production in the Miami-Date area. This type of information can be spread amongst growers with a focus on increasing these essential insects by reducing pesticide usage, allowing for natural plants and flowers to take hold throughout groves, and for farmers to be more aware of what insects are playing an important role amongst their crop.
Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Camponotus floridanus. A Florida carpenter ant actively foraging during the daylight for sweet floral nectars. This is one of the few ant species observed on mango. Photo credit: Matthew Quenaudon
Diptera: Calliphoridae: Lucilia: A blowfly, distinguishable by its metallic color, absent postscutellum, and prominent calypters. The larvae feed on decaying animals, the adults are actively seen feeding on nectar as a source of energy. Photo credit: Matthew Quenaudon
Diptera: Syrphidae: Palpada mexicana Syrphid flies, commonly called hover flies. Often mistaken as being dangerous due to their mimicry of wasps and bees yet do not sting. These insects play an important role in pest control as a larva and pollination as adults. While researching insects involved with mango pollination, this fly is quite prevalent and potentially an important pollinator of mangoes in the South Florida region. Minimal pollen deposition rates and differences in environmental conditions leads to differentiating insect importance. Photo credit: Matthew Quenaudon
The green lacewing, a delicate flier with lacy membranous wings and golden compound eyes. As adults, they can be seen fluttering on flowers for pollen during the day. Also, they are attracted to lights in the evening light. The larvae are particularly important as a biocontrol for pest insects and can be purchased commercially for release. This genus is distinguishable by the reddish colored pigment near the antennal scale. Photo credit: Matthew Quenaudon
Diptera: Chloropidae: Liohippelates. Eye gnats, although non-biting, are considered pests due to their annoyance to gather near the orifices of animals or people trying to obtain moisture. Perhaps a pest to some, these insects are quite abundant on mangoes and are potentially an important pollinator. Photo credit: Matthew Quenaudon