One of my favourite plants (after cacao that produces chocolate!) is the avocado. They are one of the most delicious and nutritious fruits around…
Avocado trees are one of the many different crops that depend on wild insects pollinators. I recently spent some time in the Kerio Valley looking at the insects visiting the avocado flowers.
Here are what the avocado flowers look like:
The pollinators of avocado on this small farm in northwestern Kenya were mainly different kinds of flies and honeybees.
After pollinating visits by several different flies, the avocado flower is pollinated and a young fruit begins to form.
They develop over several months into the wonderful fruits that we so enjoy:
Honeybees were also visiting the avocado flowers and pollinating them too:
One of the key things we’ve learned about pollinators is that they depend on a wide range of plants for their own survival.
While crops are only in flower for a short period of time, bees and flies need to eat from a wide range of different wildflowers. Without these plants, the bees, flies and other pollinators would not be able to survive. This would result in far fewer avocados and poor or low yields on the crops that depend on pollinators. Some of the plants that the bees and flies depend on at this site are considered weeds. These weeds, including the infamous ‘Black-Jack’ (Bidens pilosa) are actually an important resource for wild insects pollinators.
Weeds and wildflowers growing around the farm are essential in order to support healthy wild insect pollinators.
At this small farm near Iten, there were lots of different flowers growing along the edges of the farm, including this lovely, scrambling yellow-flowered creeper in the Daisy Family (Asteraceae). Several of the avocado pollinators could be found visiting the flowering creeper later in the day after they had been pollinating the avocado flowers.
This is why it is important to have diversity in the farming landscape, like here in Kenya’s beautiful Kerio Valley.
More wildflowers and weeds around the farm support more pollinators that produce higher yields!
More from the wonderful world of bugs soon!
Please think of the pollinators when you next enjoy an avocado!