Butterflies for control of pollination

April 29, 2012

The principal pollinators for many of the OPGC plants are bumblebees; these workhorses do an excellent job in the often stressful conditions of a cage. Unfortunately, bumblebees do not appear to polliinate phlox so we must enlist different pollinators. In the wild, phlox are primarily pollinated by various Lepidoptera; we have observed hawk moths and swallowtail butterflies working the plants. To enlist butterflies in pollinating our phlox for seed increases, we need insects that are easy to obtain/rear and that work efficiently with phlox. We've begun an examination of a couple of tough butterflies: American painted ladies (photo) and cabbage whites. We are rearing a small brood of painted ladies and have observed them working phlox flowers; we must still assses their efficiency and durability, but it is clear that butterflies will fly at the OPGC!