Petite pollinators: Tree raises its own crop of couriers

11:51am, January 30, 2002

A tropical tree creates insect nurseries in its buds for miniscule pollinators, say German scientists. This novel strategy relies on thrips, insects rarely considered pollinators.

Darwin dismissed thrips as annoyances that fouled his pollination experiments, and since then biologists studying pollination havent paid much attention to this dot of a creature. Yet a 2-millimeter-long Neoheegeria thrips serves as the main pollinator for a widespread Macaranga tree, report Ute Moog of the J.W. Goethe-University of Frankfurt in Germany and her colleagues in the January American Journal of Botany.

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