Insects Carrying Milkweed Pollinia

Texas Monarch Watch

Return to Texas Entomology - Mike Quinn


Pollinaria Primers

Brief discussion of milkweed pollination via pollinaria by Monarch Watch

Diagram of Asclepias pollinariumDiscussion of pollination of succulent Old World relatives of milkweed

This highly specialized pollen-holding structure, as a whole, is known as a pollinarium (pollinaria plural),
while the more visible pollen-holding yellow sack is a pollinium or pollinia plural.

These unique pollen structures are used in two plant families, the Asclepiadaceae (Milkweed) and the Orchidaceae (Orchids).
(Note, the Asclepiadaceae is now considered by some to be a subfamily of Apocynaceae)

Close-up photos and discussion of the development of common milkweed from flowers to seeds - Brian Johnson

Thunbnail images below are posted to BugGuide. Click on any photo to enlarge.
Please let me know of any other pollinia pix I may have missed. Thanks!

Heteroptera / Coleoptera / Diptera / Lepidoptera / Hymenoptera

References


Heteroptera - True Bugs

Lygaeidae - Seed Bugs

Large Milkweed Bug - Oncopeltus fasciatus - male - female
Oncopeltus fasciatus (Dallas)
Indiana

(It's not totally clear, but there appear to be pollinaria on the middle and hind tarsi of the upper bug.)


Coleoptera - Beetles

Cantharidae - Soldier Beetles

Soldier beetle with a milkweed pollinium on each foot - Cantharis rufa
Cantharis rufa Linnaeus
Vermont

a milkweed pollinium on each foot

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Beetle on Milkweed in Petersburg, Virginia - Chauliognathus marginatus
Chauliognathus marginatus (Fabricius)
Virginia

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Cantharidae - Soldier Beetles

Leatherwing beetle with milkweed pollinia - Chauliognathus marginatus
Chauliognathus marginatus (Fabricius)
Tennessee

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Scarabaeidae - Scarab Beetles

Euphoria sepulcralis (Fabricius) - Euphoria sepulcralis
Euphoria sepulcralis (Fabricius)
Texas

on the flower of Antelopehorn Milkweed (Asclepias asperula, Asclepiadaceae)


Diptera - True Flies

Tabanidae -  Horse Flies

Tabanid - Hybomitra hinei - male
Hybomitra hinei (Johnson)
Massachusetts

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Mydidae - Mydas Flies

Mydas tibialis Mydas tibialis Mydas tibialis
Mydas tibialis Wiedemann
New Jersey

"on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) in my garden. It picked up some milkweed pollinia on its tarsi."

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Syrphidae - Syrphid Flies

Syrphid Fly with Milkweed Pollinaria - Merodon equestris Syrphid Fly with Milkweed Pollinaria - Merodon equestris
Merodon equestris (Fabricius)
Illinois

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Conopidae - Thick-headed Flies

Fly from Adirondacks - Physocephala furcillata
Physocephala furcillata (Williston)
New York

On Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

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Conopidae - Thick-headed Flies

Physocephala furcillata
Physocephala furcillata (Williston)
New Hampshire

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Muscidae - House Flies and kin

Unknown Fly (with Yellow tarsal socks) Unknown Fly (with Yellow tarsal socks)
Minnesota

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Calliphoridae - Blow Flies

Fly found on Milkweed - Pollenia Fly found on Milkweed - Pollenia Fly found on Milkweed - Pollenia
Pollenia sp.
Pennsylvania

"Found this fly on Milkweed and noticed pollinia attached to its left hind leg. In the second image the pollinia are in focus."


Lepidoptera

Danainae - Milkweed Butterflies

Queen - Danaus gilippus - male
Danaus gilippus (Cramer)
Alabama

(When enlarged, there appears to be a pollinarium on the left middle tarsus)

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Sesiidae - Clearwing Moths

Squash Vine Borer - Melittia cucurbitae Squash Vine Borer - Melittia cucurbitae Squash Vine Borer - Melittia cucurbitae
Melittia cucurbitae (Harris)
Rhode Island

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Zygaenidae - Leaf Skeletonizer Moths

Harrisina sp. - Harrisina americana
Harrisina americana (Guérin)
Pennsylvania

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Geometridae - Geometrid Moths

Is this a Confused Eusarca or Maple Spanworm Moth ? - Eusarca Is this a Confused Eusarca or Maple Spanworm Moth ? - Eusarca
Eusarca sp.
Ohio

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Sphingidae - Sphinx Moths

hummingbird moth? - Hemaris diffinis hummingbird moth? - Hemaris diffinis
Hemaris diffinis (Boisduval)
Ohio

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Arctiinae - Tiger and Lichen Moths

Moths - Cisseps fulvicollis - male - female
Cisseps fulvicollis (Hübner)
Pennsylvania

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Noctuidae - Owlet Moths

Noctuidae: Apamea verbascoides - Apamea verbascoides
Apamea verbascoides (Guenée)
North Dakota

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Noctuidae - Owlet Moths

Variegated Cutworm with milkweed pollinia - Peridroma saucia
Peridroma saucia (Hübner)
Wisconsin

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Noctuidae - Owlet Moths

moth - Trachea delicata
Trachea delicata (Grote)
Wisconsin


Hymenoptera - Stinging Wasps and Bees

"Symphyta" - Sawflies, Horntails, and Wood Wasps

Argidae - Argid Sawflies

Unknown Wasp - Arge illuminata
Arge illuminata (D.R. Smith)
New Mexico

on Asclepias subverticillata

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Superfamily Sphecoidea

Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

Scoliid wasp, a large black wasp with four yellow spots - Campsomeris quadrimaculata Scoliid wasp - Campsomeris quadrimaculata
Campsomeris quadrimaculata (Fabricus)
Ontario, Canada

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Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

wasp with pollinia - Sphex ichneumoneus - male
Sphex ichneumoneus (Linnaeus)
New York

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Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

GreatGoldenDiggerWasp - Sphex ichneumoneus
Sphex ichneumoneus (Linnaeus)
Pennsylvania

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Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

Wasp - Sphex ichneumoneus Wasp - Sphex ichneumoneus
Sphex ichneumoneus (Linnaeus)
Iowa

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Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

Great golden digger wasp? - Sphex ichneumoneus Great golden digger wasp? - Sphex ichneumoneus
Sphex ichneumoneus (Linnaeus)
California

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Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

Great Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus Great Black Wasp - Sphex pensylvanicus
Sphex pensylvanicus Linnaeus
Ontario, Canada

on Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

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Sphecidae - Thread-waisted Wasps

Yellow tarsal appendages, ID? - Sphex pensylvanicus Yellow tarsal appendages, ID? - Sphex pensylvanicus
Sphex pensylvanicus Linnaeus
New Mexico

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Superfamily Apoidea

Colletidae - Plasterer and Masked Bees

Bee - Hylaeus modestus - male Wasp - Hylaeus modestus - male
Hylaeus modestus Say
Pennsylvania

"Milkweed pollinia are attached to the mandible of this bee."

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Halictidae - Sweat Bees

bee - Halictus rubicundus - male
Halictus rubicundus Christ
Pennsylvania

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Halictidae - Sweat Bees

Lasioglossum Sweat Bee - Lasioglossum - female Lasioglossum Sweat Bee - Lasioglossum - female
Lasioglossum (Dialictus) sp.
New York

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Andrenidae - Mining Bees

More Perdita? - Perdita More Perdita? - Perdita More Perdita? - Perdita
Perdita sp.
California

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Megachilidae - Leaf-cutter Bees

Leaf-cutter bee.  Megachile? - Megachile mendica Leaf-cutter bee.  Megachile? - Megachile mendica Leaf-cutter bee.  Megachile? - Megachile mendica - female
Megachile mendica Cresson
Missouri

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Megachilidae - Leaf-cutter Bees

Pollinia tagged bee - Megachile frigida
Megachile frigida Smith
New York

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Apidae - Cuckoo, Carpenter, Digger, Bumble, and Honey Bees

Nomadinae - Cuckoo Bees

Tiny nomad-ish bee
Epeolini sp.
Washington

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Xylocopinae - Carpenter Bees

Bee with geen eyes - Xylocopa micans Bee with geen eyes - Xylocopa micans
Xylocopa micans Lepeletier
Texas

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Xylocopinae - Carpenter Bees

Carpenter bee with pollinia - Xylocopa virginica - female
Xylocopa virginica Linnaeus - Eastern Carpenter Bee
Pennsylvania

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Xylocopinae - Carpenter Bees

Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa virginica - female
Xylocopa virginica Linnaeus - Eastern Carpenter Bee
North Carolina

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Xylocopinae - Carpenter Bees

Xylocopa varipuncta - male
Xylocopa varipuncta Patton
California

on Mexican Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias fascicularis)

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Xylocopinae - Carpenter Bees

Valley Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa varipuncta - male Valley Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa varipuncta - male Valley Carpenter Bee - Xylocopa varipuncta - male
Xylocopa varipuncta Patton
Arizona

on Antelope Horns Milkweed

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Bombus - Bombus bimaculatus - female Bombus - Bombus bimaculatus
Bombus bimaculatus Cresson
Indiana

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Bumbles on milkweed - Bombus griseocollis - male
Bombus griseocollis (DeGeer)
Missouri

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Bombus griseocollis with pollinaria - Bombus griseocollis - female
Bombus griseocollis (DeGeer)
Texas

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Bombus pensylvanicus (De Geer) - Bombus pensylvanicus - male
Bombus pensylvanicus (De Geer)
Texas

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Bumble bee450 - Bombus perplexus - male
Bombus perplexus Cresson
New York

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Yellow Bee - Bombus perplexus Yellow Bee - Bombus perplexus
Bombus perplexus Cresson
Virginia

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Yellow bumble bee - Bombus perplexus
Bombus perplexus Cresson
Maryland

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Bombini - Bumble Bees

Another Bombus, the confusing one - Bombus perplexus - male
Bombus perplexus Cresson
Pennsylvania

On common milkweed

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Centridini - Centridine Bees

Gray bee on Desert Milkweed - Centris
Centris (Paracentris) sp.
California

 on Desert Milkweed (Asclepias erosa)

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Apini - Honey Bees

Honeybee (worker) - Apis mellifera - Apis mellifera - female
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Pennsylvania

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Apini - Honey Bees

bee - Apis mellifera - female
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Wisconsin

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Apini - Honey Bees

honeybee - Apis mellifera
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
New Hampshire

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Apini - Honey Bees

European Honey Bee - Apis mellifera
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Maine

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Apini - Honey Bees

bee with pollinia - Apis mellifera
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
New York

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Apini - Honey Bees

Honeybee snared by milkweed - Apis mellifera
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Missouri

"After the bee freed herself, I was able to get a shot of her fore and hind legs, each with a bisaccate pollinum attached."

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Apini - Honey Bees

Apis mellifera Linnaeus - Apis mellifera
Apis mellifera Linnaeus
Texas

honey bee with pollinia on antelopehorn milkweed (Asclepias asperula, Asclepiadaceae)

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Superfamily Tiphioidea

Tiphiidae - Tiphiid Wasps

Tiphid wasp - Myzinum quinquecinctum - female
Myzinum quinquecinctum (Fabricius)
Illinois

on Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

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Tiphiidae - Tiphiid Wasps

unknown wasp species - Myzinum quinquecinctum - female
Myzinum quinquecinctum (Fabricius)
Iowa

on Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

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Superfamily Pompiloidea

Pompilidae - Spider Wasps

NM Wasp - Pepsis pallidolimbata
Pepsis pallidolimbata Lucas
New Mexico

on Horsetail Milkweed (Asclepias subverticillata)

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Pompilidae - Spider Wasps

unknown wasp - Pepsis
Pepsis sp.
California

on Asclepias fascicularis growing around a spring on our property; there were scores of these guys on the Milkweed.

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Scoliid Wasp - Campsomeris plumipes - female
Campsomeris plumipes (Drury)
North Carolina

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Wasp - What's going on here? - Campsomeris plumipes - male
Campsomeris plumipes (Drury)
Ohio

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Wasp - Campsomeris plumipes Wasp - Campsomeris plumipes
Campsomeris plumipes (Drury)
Maryland

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Campsomeris tolteca (Saussure) - Campsomeris tolteca - male Campsomeris tolteca (Saussure) - Campsomeris tolteca - male Campsomeris tolteca (Saussure) - Campsomeris tolteca - male
Campsomeris tolteca (Saussure)
Texas

middle photo shows male sleeping aggrigation

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

 Campsomeris plumipes (Drury) - Campsomeris plumipes - female Campsomeris plumipes (Drury) - Campsomeris plumipes - female Campsomeris plumipes (Drury) - Campsomeris plumipes - female
Campsomeris plumipes (Drury)
Texas

on flowers of green antelopehorn (Asclepias viridis, Asclepiadaceae)

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Scoliid wasp - Crioscolia alcione - female Scoliid wasp - Crioscolia alcione - female Scoliid wasp - Crioscolia alcione - female
Crioscolia alcione (Banks)
Colorado

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Blue Winged Wasp - Scolia nobilitata Blue Winged Wasp - Scolia nobilitata
Scolia nobilitata Fabricius
Colorado

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Scoliidae, dorsal - Scolia nobilitata - male Scoliidae with pollinia - Scolia nobilitata - male
Scolia nobilitata Fabricius
Minnesota

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Scoliidae - Scoliid Wasps

Unidentified, Maybe Bee Wolf or Digger Wasp? - Trielis octomaculata - female
Trielis octomaculata (Say)
New Mexico

On poison milkweed

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Superfamily Vespoidea

Vespidae - Yellowjackets, Paper Wasps; Potter, Mason and Pollen Wasps

Eumeninae - Potter and Mason Wasps

Vespid  - Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus Vespid  - Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus Vespid  - Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus
Pterocheilus quinquefasciatus Say
Oklahoma

on Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

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Eumeninae - Potter and Mason Wasps

Pterocheilus - female Pterocheilus - female Pterocheilus - female
Pterocheilus sp.
California

on Woolly Milkweed (Asclepias vestita)

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Masarinae - Pollen Wasps

Pseudomasaris coquilletti - female
Pseudomasaris coquilletti Rohwer
California

on Woolly Milkweed (Asclepias vestita)

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Masarinae - Pollen Wasps

Pseudomasaris coquilletti - female
Pseudomasaris coquilletti Rohwer
California

(majorly stuck!)

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Polistinae - Paper Wasps

Paper Wasp? - Polistes aurifer Paper Wasp? - Polistes aurifer Paper Wasp? - Polistes aurifer Paper Wasp? - Polistes aurifer - male
Polistes aurifer de Saussure
California

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Polistinae - Paper Wasps

Is this a Paper Wasp? - Polistes dorsalis - male Is this a Paper Wasp? - Polistes dorsalis - male
Polistes dorsalis (Fabricius)
Arizona

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Polistinae - Paper Wasps

wasp with pollinia - Polistes dominula
Polistes dominula (Christ)
New York

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Vespinae - Yellowjackets

Yellowjacket - Vespula sp. - Dolichovespula arenaria - male Yellowjacket - Vespula sp. - Dolichovespula arenaria - male Yellowjacket - Vespula sp. - Dolichovespula arenaria - male
Dolichovespula arenaria (Fabricius)
New York

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Vespinae - Yellowjackets

Nectar feeding wasp - Dolichovespula arenaria - female Nectar feeding hornet - Dolichovespula arenaria
Dolichovespula arenaria (Fabricius)
Michigan


Selected Online and Print References of Milkweed Pollination

Compilation of Pollinator Records for 160 Milkweed Species in the Family Asclepiadaceae - Ollerton & Liede, 1997

Insects visiting Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) with and without pollinia

Insects visiting Tall Green Milkweed (Asclepias hirtella) with and without pollinia

Insects visiting Purple Milkweed (Asclepias purpurascens) with and without pollinia

Insects visiting Prairie Milkweed (Asclepias sullivanti) with and without pollinia

Insects visiting Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) with and without pollinia

Insects visiting Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa) with and without pollinia

Insects visiting Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata) with and without pollinia

Barad, G. 1990. Pollination of stapeliads. Cactus and Succulent Journal 62: 130–140.

Bertin, R.I. & M.F. Willson. 1980. Effectiveness of diurnal and nocturnal pollination of two milkweeds. Canadian Journal of Botany 58: 1744-1746.

Betz, R.F., R.D. Struven, J.E. Wall and F.B. Heitler. 1994. Insect pollinators of 12 milkweed (Asclepias) species. Pp. 45–60. In: R.G. Wickett, P.D. Lewis, A. Woodliffe & P. Pratt. (editors). Proceedings of the Thirteenth North American Prairie Conference: Spirit of the Land, Our Prairie Legacy. Windsor, Ontario: City of Windsor Department of Parks & Recreation. (Full PDF)

Bookman, S.S. 1981. The floral morphology of Asclepias speciosa (Asclepiadaceae) in relation to pollination and a clarification in terminology for the genus. American Journal of Botany 68(5): 675-679.

Borders, B. & E. Lee-Mäder. 2014. Milkweeds: A Conservation Practitioner's Guide. The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Portland, OR. 146 pp. (Full PDF)

Broyles, S.B. & R. Wyatt. 1990. Paternity analysis in a natural population of Asclepias exaltata: multiple paternity, functional gender, and the "pollen-donation hypotyhesis". Evolution 44: 1454-1468.

Faust, L. & H. Faust. 2014. The occurrence and behaviors of North American fireflies (Coleoptera: Lampyridae) on milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L. The Coleopterists Bulletin 68(2): 283-291.

Fishbein, M. & D.L. Venable. 1996. Diversity and temporal change in the effective pollinators of Asclepias tuberosa. Ecology 77(4): 1061-1073.

Fritz, R.S. & D.H. Morse. 1981. Nectar parasitism of Asclepias syriaca by ants: effect on nectar levels, pollinea insertion, pollinaria removal and pod production. Oecologia, 50: 316–319.

Frost, S.W. 1965. Insects and pollinia. Ecology 46: 556–558.

Harold, K. 1985. The worth of pollinarium. Asklepios 35: 29.

Ivey, C.T., P. Martinez & R. Wyatt. 2003. Variation in pollinator effectiveness in swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata (Apocynaceae). American Journal of Botany 90: 214–225.

Jennersten, O. & D.H. Morse. 1991. The quality of pollination by diurnal and nocturnal insects visiting common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca. The American Midland Naturalist 125: 18-28.

Kephart, S.R. 1979. The floral ecology and reproductive isolation of three sympatric species of Asclepias. PhD thesis, Indiana University, Bloomington.

Kephart, S.R. 1983. The partitioning of pollinators among three species of Asclepias. Ecology, 64: 120-133.

Kephart, S. & K. Theiss. 2004. Pollinator-mediated isolation in sympatric milkweeds (Asclepias): do floral morphology & insect behavior influence species boundaries? New Phytologist 161: 265-277. (Full PDF)

Kunze, H. 1991. Structure and function in asclepiad pollination. Plant Systematics and Evolution 176: 227-253.

Kunze, H. & S. Liede. 1991. Observations on pollination in Sarcostemma (Asclepiadaceae). Plant Systematics and Evolution 178: 95-105.

Macior, L.W. 1965. Insect adaptation and behavior in Asclepias pollination. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 92: 114-126.

Morse, D.H. 1981. Modification of bumblebee foraging: the effect of milkweed pollinia. Ecology 62: 89–97.

Morse, D.H. 1982. The turnover of milkweed pollinia on bumble bees, and implications for outcrossing. Oecologia 53: 187–196.

Morse, D.H. 1985. Milkweeds and their visitors.Scientific American 253: 90-96. 

Morse, D.H. 1986. Inflorescence choice and time allocation by insects foraging on milkweed. Oikos 46: 229-236.

Morse, D.H. & R.S. Fritz. 1983. Contributions of diurnal and nocturnal insects to the pollination of common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca L.) in a pollen-limited system. Oecologia, 60: 190-197.

Newton, L.E. 1984. Terminology of structures associated with pollinia of the Asclepiadaceae. Taxon 33(4): 619-621.

Ollerton, J. & S. Liede. 1997. Pollination systems in the Asclepiadaceae: a survey and preliminary analysis. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 62(4): 593-610. (Abstract)

Padrón, P. 1975. Los Danaidae de las Islas Canarias. Shilap. Revista de Lepidopterología 3: 217-220.

Pleasants, J.M. 1991. Evidence for short-distance dispersal of pollinia in Asclepias syriaca L. Functional Ecology, 5: 75–82.

Pliske, T.E. 1975. Pollination of pyrrolizidine alkaloid-containing plants by male lepidoptera. Environmental Entomology 4: 474-479.

Robertson, C. 1887a. Insect relations of certain asclepiads. I. Botanical Gazette 12: 207–216.

Robertson, C. 1887b. Insect relations of certain asclepiads. II. Botanical Gazette 12: 244-250.

Robertson C. 1891. Flowers and insects, Asclepiadaceae to Scrophulariaceae. Transactions of the Academy of Science 5: 569–598.

Southwick, E.E. 1983. Nectar biology and nectar feeders of common milkweed, Asclepias syriaca L. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club, 110: 324–334.

Theiss, K, S. Kephart & C. Ivey. 2007. Pollinator effectiveness on co-occurring milkweeds (Asclepias; Apocynaceae, Asclepiadoideae). Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 94: 507-516.

Wyatt, R. 1980. The impact of nectar-robbing ants on the pollination system of Asclepias curassavica. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 107: 24-28

Wyatt, R. & T.R. Shannon. 1986. Nectar production and pollination of Asclepias exaltata. Systematic Botany 11: 326-334

Willson, M.F. & R.I. Bertin. 1979. Flower-visitors, nectar production, and inflorescence size of Asclepias syriaca. Canadian Journal of Botany 57: 1380-1388.  

Willson, M.E., R.I. Bertin, & P.W. Price.1979. Nectar production and flower visitors of Asclepias verticillata. The American Midland Naturalist 102: 23-35.


05 May 2017 © Mike Quinn / entomike@gmail.com / Texas Entomology / Texas Monarch Watch