Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Mangoes Need Native Flies

Native flies are one of the top pollinators of mango trees according to a new study of different pollinators that visit mango flowers in Far North Queensland. “We found that native flies visited 20% more frequently than bees and they were among the top transporters of pollen,” said Dr Romina Rader of the University of New England.

The study found that 44 different insects visited the flowers during the survey. The 12 most frequent visitors included two bee species, nine flies and one beetle.

“Of all the flies, the small black tip fly (Rhiniidae) visited with the highest frequency, and beetles accounted for less than 4% of all visits,” Rader said.

“In terms of the amount of pollen transferred to a single mango flower, the native bee and several flies performed better than the honeybee. The native bee transferred on average about seven pollen grains per visit, the honey bee 2.7 pollen grains, the blue blowfly about 6.8 pollen grains.”

Rader said that if growers want to attract and keep these pollinators they need to give them the resources needed to see out their life cycle. “This may include planting native plants close to your orchard that produce lots of nectar and pollen at times when the mango tree isn’t in flower.”

Rader now hopes to expand her work to include pollen viability and how yield differs when pollen is transferred by different insects.