Unlikely pollinators

20 August 2018 | Research
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The research revealed that some insects from the orthopteran family act as pollinators for flowers (Photo: Tan Ming Kai)

For most plant owners, insects that belong to the orthopteran family, such as grasshoppers and crickets, are best described as pests that eat greenery. However, research by NUS Biological Sciences PhD student Tan Ming Kai has revealed that some of these insects, particularly from the Southeast Asian region, actually pollinate flowers the way butterflies and bees do. His research, the most extensive of flower-visiting tropical orthopterans, began in 2015 and spanned five countries — Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei and Indonesia. He found that 41 species of orthopterans — 19 katydids, 13 grasshoppers and nine crickets — visited the flowers of 35 plant species, although not all of them pollinated the flowers.

The results of this research could prove important to agriculture-reliant Southeast Asia, as it could help farmers distinguish the potential pollinators from the pests.

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