Pollination Biology of Theobroma and Herrania (Sterculiaceae) — III. Steam-Distilled Floral Oils of Theobroma Species as Attractants to Flying Insects in a Costa Rican Cocoa Plantation

  • Allen M. Young
  • Barbara J. Erickson
  • Eric H. Erickson
Research Article


Steam-distilled floral oils (essences) from several species of Theobroma (Sterculiaceae) (T. cacao Linneaus, T. simiarum Donn. Smith, T. mammosum Cuatr. & Leon, and T. speciosum Willd.) were tested using McPhail traps, in an abandoned Costa Rican cocoa plantation to determine their levels of attraction for flying insects. In each of the three bioassays (two successive dry seasons and one intervening rainy season), the traps were inoculated with floral scents at 1, 10, and 100 ppm, while controls were inoculated with a 10% solution of chloroform solvent in distilled water. Of a total of 223 Diptera captured in all three bioassays, only 5% were found in the controls, indicating attraction to the floral oil. About 72% of all Diptera captured were Cecidomyiidae, of which three species, Mycodiplosis ligulata Gagne, Aphodiplosis triangularis (Felt.) and Ledomyia sp., comprised 59% of the total. Eighty-eight per cent of all midges captured were females. Only 7% of the total were known cocoa-pollinating midges of Ceratopogonidae, and all of these were females. Sixteen per cent were Phoridae, known pollinators of the allied genus Herrania in Costa Rica. Although the chemical composition of floral oils varies greatly among the species of Theobroma, no discernible differences were found in the attraction of midges to floral oils tested. While floral fragrances in Theobroma species may represent a generalized adaptation for dipteran pollination, small numbers of several species of Trigona bees (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponinae) were also attracted to the floral oils.

Key Words

Theobroma mammosum T. cacao T. simiarum T. speciosum pollinators Costa Rica attractants Mycodiplosis ligulata Aphodiplosis triangularis Ledomyia sp. 


Des essences florales distillées par vapeur à partir de plusieurs espèces de Theobroma (Sterculiaceae) (T. cacao Linnaeus, T. simiarum Donn. Smith, T. mammosum Cuatr. & Leon, et T. speciosum Willd.) ont été testées en utilisant des pièges McPhail dans une plantation de cacao abandonee du Costa Rica pour déterminer leur degré d’attraction pour des insectes volants. Au cours de chacun des trois bioessais (deux saisons sèches successives et une saison des pluies intermediare), les pièges ont été inoculés avec des essences florales au 1, 10 et 100 millionième tandis que des contrôles étaient inoculés avec une solution de 10% de solvent de chloroforme dans de l’eau distillée. Sur un total de 223 diptères capturés au cours des trois bioessais seulemnt 5% ont été trouvés dans les contrôles indiquant une attraction pour les essences florales. Environ 72% de tous les diptères capturés des Cecidomyiidae et dont 59% du total étaient représentés per trois espèces, Sfycodiplosis ligulata Gagne, Aphodiplosis triangularis (Felt) et Ledomyia sp. Quatre-ving huit pour cent de tous les moucherons captures étaient femelles. Suelemnt 7% du total étaient des moucherons poiliniseurs de cacao Ceratopogonidae et tous étaient femelles. Seize pour cent étaient des Phoridae poiliniseurs connus du genre allié Herrania au Costa Rica. L’attraction pour les essences florales était similaire pour toutes les espèces de Theobroma a l’exception de T. speciosum, qui était très basse: Theobroma speciosum n’est pas endémique au Costa Rica. Tandis que les senteurs florales dans les espèces Theobroma peuvent représenter une adaptation généralisée pour la pollinisation par diptères, un petit nombre de plusieurs espèces d’abeilles Trigona (Hymenoptera: Apidae: Meliponinae) étaient aussi attirées par les essences florales. Les données concernant les insectes sont discutées en termes de différences entre les espèces Theobroma pour les principaux constituents volatiles des essences florales distillées.


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Copyright information

© ICIPE 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • Allen M. Young
    • 1
  • Barbara J. Erickson
    • 2
  • Eric H. Erickson
    • 3
  1. 1.Invertebrate Zoology Section, Milwaukee Public MuseumMilwaukeeUSA
  2. 2.Department of EntomologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA
  3. 3.USDA, ARS, North Central States Bee Research Unit, Department of EntomologyUniversity of WisconsinMadisonUSA

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