Frequent insect visitors are not always pollen carriers in hybrid carrot pollination
Gaffney, A and Bohman, B and Quarrell, SR and Brown, PH and Allen, GR, Frequent insect visitors are not always pollen carriers in hybrid carrot pollination, Insects, 9, (2) Article 61. ISSN 2075-4450 (2018) [Refereed Article]
Insect crop visitations do not necessarily translate to carriage or transfer of pollen. To evaluate the potential of the various insects visiting hybrid carrot flowers to facilitate pollen transfer, this study examines insect visitation rates to hybrid carrot seed crops in relation to weather, time of day and season, pollen carrying capacity, inter-row movement, and visitation frequency to male-fertile and male-sterile umbels. The highest pollen loads were carried by nectar scarabs, honey bees, and the hover fly Eristalis tenax (Linnaeus). Honey bees and muscoid flies were observed to forage mostly within the male fertile carrot row while nectar scarabs and E. tenax foraged across rows, carrying equal pollen loads regardless of their distance from the pollen source. All observed insect taxa were more frequently seen visiting male-fertile than male-sterile umbels. In contrast to other visiting insects, honey bees were abundant and frequent visitors and were observed carrying high pollen loads. Consequently, we suggest both optimizing honey bee management and improving the attraction of carrot lines to honey bees to improve pollination rates for hybrid carrot seed crops.