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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Butterflies Pollinating Plum Trees?

Butterflies pollinating readers plum tree
Q. Attached you will find a picture of small butterflies on our plum tree. There are hundreds of them. Are they pollinating our trees? The bees were here, but these have taken over.

A. I have seen this before a few years back in our orchard as well and they can do a lot of pollinating when it happens. It normally does not last very long. There is usually a burst of butterflies for a couple of weeks and then it is over.

            The development of the adult butterfly must correspond to the opening of flowers that require insect pollination. In some years, like now, butterfly development is perfectly coordinated with certain varieties of fruit trees.

            Pollinating insects can include bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, flies and other insects. By far the most consistent pollinators are our bees and specifically the domesticated honeybee.


  1. The honey bees have been busy on my citrus the past two weeks (Phoenix, AZ) in such numbers it sounded like my trees had hies in them---the petals have all dropped off now. We also have alkali and mason-type bees and bumblebees visiting the flowers too. But I did notice quite a few monarch colored but small butterflies visiting the flowers as well and alternately doing their clustered in the air mating dances (I assume). Interestingly, the honeybees would bump (intimidate, harry) a butterfly off of the flower whenever they could even though there were plenty of flowers for all.

  2. Really nice documentation of the honey bees' tenacity . .Remember bees are working for the whole hive or colony and butterflies are just grabbing a quick bit on a journey or get a little feeding before mating, egg laying and dying . . Either way the bees are on a mission to enhance every other bee in their colony and the butterflies are getting ready for sex or on a road trip . .