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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Pollen - What Does It Tell Us About Insects?

Author
item Jones, Gretchen

Submitted to: Palynology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: November 8, 2000
Publication Date: N/A

Technical Abstract: Numerous insect species become contaminated with pollen when they feed on nectar, pollen, and plant exudates associated with flowers. Identification of pollen on or in an insect can be used to determine the insect's diet, habitat, origin, and dispersal. For example, identification of the pollen found on honeybees can be used to determine the foraging resources of honeybees and the botanical origin of the honey. The pollen assemblage found on insects can be used to determine the plant habitat of the insects. These plant taxa can be tested to establish their attractiveness to the insects. If there is a strong attraction, volatile compounds can be extracted from the plant and used to lure the insects into or out of an area. The taxa of pollen found on insects can also help determine insect dispersal and possible migration routes. For example, corn earworm moths captured in Oklahoma contained citrus pollen on their probosces. Since citrus growing areas do not occur in Oklahoma, presence of citrus pollen indicated that the moths had migrated to Oklahoma from citrus growing areas. Information obtained from the pollen found on and in insects can be used to help maintain healthy beehives and develop more efficient pest management.

Last Modified: 4/19/2014