Papaya

Papaya, also known as pawpaw, is an important fruit crop for many smallholder farmers in East Africa that is fully dependent on pollinators.

Papaya has separate male and female plants. Male flowers are produced in large numbers on male plants, while female flowers are produced is smaller numbers at the base of the leaves on female papaya plants. Papaya pollinators have to visit male flowers, collect pollen, then visit female flowers to ensure pollination, and fruit set.

The pollinators of papaya in East Africa are primarily hawkmoths, and a few skipper butterflies. Hawkmoths are efficient pollinators as they can move rapidly between different papaya plants on a farm.

Hawkmoths, and skipper butterflies need other plants for nectar. They also require wild plant species, called host-plants, to provide a place to lay their eggs and from where caterpillars can feed and grow.

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Papaya farmer in fruit and thriving. Photo by D. J. Martins
Papaya farmer in fruit and thriving. Photo by D. J. Martins
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Hawkmoths are the main pollinators of papaya by D. J. Martins
Hawkmoths are the main pollinators of papaya by D. J. Martins

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