Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 January 2018
Nocturnally foraging insects may be supplementary pollinators to chiropterophilous plant species when bats are scarce. Given that insects are much smaller than bats, they may be more effective at transferring pollen for plant species with similar stamen and pistil lengths, such as the ‘Monthong’ durian cultivar. The present study clarifies the role of insects in pollinating the ‘Monthong’ cultivar by examining the floral biology, conducting pollination treatments on 19 trees and observing floral visitors in southern Thailand. Stigmas were receptive by 17h00, and over 50% of ‘Monthong’ anthers had dehisced by 17h30. Several bee species began foraging on flowers during the late afternoon, and the giant honey bee (Apis dorsata) continued to visit throughout the night. Our results show that at 4 wk after pollination, the highest fruit set occurred from hand-crossed pollination (13.5%), followed by open pollination (5.5%), insect pollination (3.3%) and automatic autogamy (2.0%), indicating that this cultivar is highly self-incompatible. Moreover, insects appear to be important pollinators of ‘Monthong’ durian in areas where nectar bats visit infrequently. One bee species in particular, Apis dorsata, commonly foraged on flowers at dusk and appears to be the most effective insect pollinator of durian. Our findings highlight that nocturnally foraging bees are capable of securing pollination for night-blooming plant taxa, even those typically considered to be bat-pollinated.