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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Tifton, Georgia » Crop Genetics and Breeding Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #379659

Research Project: Genetic Improvement and Cropping Systems of Warm-season Grasses for Forage, Feedstocks, Syrup, and Turf

Location: Crop Genetics and Breeding Research

Title: Evidence of pollinators foraging on centipedegrass inflorescences

item SHIMAT, JOSEPH - University Of Georgia
item Harris-Shultz, Karen
item JESPESEN, DAVID - University Of Georgia

Submitted to: Insects
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/10/2020
Publication Date: 11/13/2020
Citation: Shimat, J., Harris-Shultz, K.R., Jespesen, D. 2020. Evidence of pollinators foraging on centipedegrass inflorescences. Insects. 11:795.

Interpretive Summary: Turfgrasses are generally considered devoid of pollinators, as turfgrasses are often described as being only wind pollinated. Centipedegrass is a popular turfgrass type planted in the southeastern USA. Centipedegrass produces a large number of inflorescences from August to October each year. In a recent study, honey bees were found to be collecting pollen from centipedegrass. However, it is not clear if other pollinators are attracted to centipedegrass inflorescences and actively forage on them. Thus, the aim of the current study was to document the pollinators that foraged on centipedegrass inflorescences. Pollinators visiting centipedegrass were sampled using 1) a sweep net when actively foraging on an inflorescence; 2) blue, white and yellow pan traps; and 3) malaise or flight-intercept traps. Sweat bees (small bees) and bumble and honey bees (large bees) were captured while actively foraging on the centipedegrass inflorescences. In the pan and flight-intercept traps, more sweat bees were collected than large bees. We also captured hover flies in the samples. The adult hover flies consumed pollen during flower visits. This research gives evidence that turfgrasses can be a suitable food source for pollinators and is a first step toward developing bee-friendly lawns. The data also suggest that the use of pesticides and practices that destroy bee habitats and affect bee foraging should be reduced.

Technical Abstract: Turfgrasses are commonly used for lawns and as recreational surfaces in the USA. Because grasses are largely wind pollinated it was thought that pollinators would rarely forage on turfgrasses. Centipedegrass [Eremochloa ophiuroides (Munro) Hack] is a warm-season turfgrass widely used in the southeastern USA. Centipedegrass produces spike-like inflorescences from August to October, and little is known about whether pollinators utilize those inflorescences as pollen resources. Thus, the objective of the current study was to identify the pollinators foraging on centipedegrass inflorescences. Pollinator samples were collected by 1) sweeping the insects actively foraging on centipedegrass inflorescence for 30 mins, 2) deploying pan traps for 24 h and 3) deploying malaise traps for 7 d. In the sweep samples, Lasioglossum spp., Bombus spp., Apis spp., Melissodes spp. and Augochlorella spp. were collected from centipedegrass inflorescences. Syrphid flies were also collected in the sweep samples. The pan and malaise traps collected mostly Lasioglossum spp. (small bees). The results suggest that there is a critical need to conserve bee habitats by reducing the use of broad-spectrum pesticides and adopting nondisruptive lawn practices. Additionally, this new knowledge lays the foundation for future research to enhance our understanding of bee and syrphid behavior and the selection of host traits for improving bee foraging.