oa African Entomology - Pollination by monkey beetles (Coleoptera: Scarabaeidae: Hopliini): flower and colour preferences

Volume 4, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1021-3589



Colour preferences and flower selection by monkey beetles (Scarabaeidae: Hopllini) were examined at two sites in the Biedouw Valley, near Clanwilliarn, and a site at Darling. Correlation was obtained between the attraction of beetles to colour-traps and the colours of host-plant flowers. Three pollinator guilds were defined on colour preferences and feeding behaviour. A blue/white pollinator guild comprising species of Anisonyx Fabricius and Peritrichia Burmeister were attracted to blue and white traps, and pollinated blue-violet and white flowers. These beetles feed on pollen (and possibly on nectar) and do not imbed themselves in flowers. This, together with their dense pilosity and frequent flower visitation rates, suggests that they are important pollinators. A second embedding guild consists of the genera Scelophysa Gyllenhal, Heterochelus Burmeister, Gymnoloma peringuey, Heterochelus Burmeister and Pachycnema Burmeister. These beetles show pronounced sexual dimorphism and are relatively free of hair. They characteristically embed in species of Asteraceae and Mesembryanthemaceae, feeding on the ray florets, ovule and pollen. They probably have a limited role as pollinators. A third pollen-feeding guild is intermediate between these two guilds. It comprises species of Lepithrix Serville which, like the members of the embedding guild, select red, yellow, orange and white pigments and flowers. They do not embed, but feed superficially on pollen of Asteraceae. They are numerous, active and densely pilose, features indicating that they play an important role as pollinators.

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