Pawpaw Pollinator Watch
Photos of Spring 2021 pollinator surveillance

Photos by Dallas Ford and Connie Barlow


Female and Male flower stages at Marc Boone Farm, 16 May 2021

Marc Boone Farm • 7 May 2021

Video and Photography: Connie Barlow

Connie Barlow videoed Marc Boone on 7 May 2021, as he gave her a tour through his 300-tree pawpaw orchard. It was a sunny cold morning, with very high winds. The three images below were all single-frame grabs from the raw video.

   LEFT: Marc observed that the trees had a lot of flowers in bud and a few in bloom this year, though a group at the lowest part of the orchard had flower buds killed by frost on branches within 6 feet of the ground.

BELOW: Connie collected a low branchlet that had one of the few very open flowers, and that also shows the early leaf stage, which is only at the branch tip. This is the female stage flower. Are the white dots pawpaw pollen? Are the black dots at stigma tips indications of pollination?

Marc Boone Farm • 16 May 2021

Photography: Dallas Ford   •  Video: Connie Barlow








Draper-Houston Preserve • 16 May 2021

Photography: Dallas Ford   •  Video: Connie Barlow






Draper-Houston Preserve • 2 May 2021

Connie Barlow and Michael Dowd






Ypsilanti Maple Street home • 3 days during mid May 2021

Day 1: May 17
Video and video stills: Connie Barlow

80 degrees F, breeze

There are two nursery-bought young pawpaws in this yard. The partly shaded one is bigger, and the one in more sun is smaller and some flowers withered before fully working through the female and male stages.

DAY 1 I learned that it was important to shake a flower (after gently using a hand lens to look inside it) because the 2 similar dark small beetles usually will only drop out if vigorously shook. Consequently, I also learned I needed to shake each downward-hanging flower into a light-colored bowl.

INSECTS OBSERVED: I saw one large housefly walking around the outside and then disappearing into the inside of the flower; then quickly emerging again, and doing the same thing a second time before flying off. The several insects I photographed are below.


   ABOVE: I assumed that this pair of insects were large ants (notice the small ant at upper edge of photo above left). Then they flew, so they must be wasp-like insects.

LEFT: The flower is a late-stage male, from which the upper leaf and its smaller inner correlate (pictured at left) were easy to remove without disturbing the insects. The holes of outer and inner leaf were aligned, so there was a single cause to its formation. (See the hole is visible in the upper left photo.)

      Because I had a video camera, I was able to capture a frame when the largest of the 2 beetle species of the same darkness and form prepared to take flight.

These photos were taken in sunlight, so they are the best for observing the orangish markings on the beetle. The white strands and dots may be pollen.

Day 2: May 19 (PEAK INSECT DAY)
Video and video stills: Connie Barlow

80 degrees F, gentle breeze

As with the first day (May 17) at this site of 2 young, nursery-bred pawpaws, there were two beetle types that were often hidden inside a flower but that easily fell into a bowl when I shook the downward-hanging flowers into the bowl.

The two species appeared similar in form, but one was 2X or 3X the size of the other.

The small beetle type seemed to reside in 80-90% of the male flowers I tested, but in only a few of the blossoms in female stages (with no pollen).

The bigger beetle was less abundant on May 17, but very abundant on May 19. May 19 maximal number in a single flower dropping into the bowl when the flower was shaken were 4 of the large beetles and 2 of the small. The flower was in the male stage.

Both beetle species were reluctant to fly, but both did fly, and I was able to video the small one several times preparing to fly. I extracted stills from those videos and post here below.

NOTE: Both beetle species were dark, though possibly with slight reddish or orange marks. The reddish hues seen in the still photos below come from photo editing to enhance visibility of beetle forms, as Connie's video camera is poor resolution compared to Dallas Ford's camera, which will show insects on Day 3, May 20.


1. SPIDERS ABSENT. Unlike our experience with the pawpaw flowers at Draper-Houston on May 16 where spiders and their webs inside blossoms were abundant, here on May 19 I saw no spiders and no webs.

2. ANTS & BEETLES COHABITED. In one blossom I saw several medium size ants, and a small beetle fell out when I shook the blossom.


Note: The maple seeds were placed in the white bowl for scale.


Videographer Connie Barlow assessed that about 2/3 of the open, maroon flowers were in the pollen-available male stage (left). Perhaps 1/3 (or fewer) were still in the female stage. A number of small green flowers had not yet matured. Was this a peak pollinator day?


(captured as frames from the video)





(captured as frames from the video)


BELOW: Both beetle types sometimes play dead when dropping into the bowl (especially the smaller beetle). But here you can see the bigger beetle playing dead (underside exposed, legs folded) and then below that, as it flips toward its side.

Day 3: May 20 (post peak insect day)
Video and video stills by Connie Barlow • hi-res photography by Dallas Ford

80 degrees F, 5:00 pm with breeze picking up

DALLAS FORD captured the best photos of the bigger of the two beetles.

BELOW: The bigger beetle is shown here "playing dead" after falling out of a late-stage male flower. Vigorous shaking of the flower over the bowl had many of the spent anthers falling out too. Because the shaking was vigorous, pollen on the beetle may have happened during shaking. However, as with previous days, the beetles tend to have a lot of pollen around their mouths.






BELOW: Some kind of a bug at right tip of petal, plus close-up:


Return to beginning

Pawpaw Pollinator Watch
(main page)