UCT student conducts study on beetles

Peta Brom and the volunteers sitting in a circle to sort out the monkey beetles according to which flowers they were on.

Friends of the Rondebosch Common assisted PhD University of Cape Town (UCT) student Peta Brom to collect monkey beetles from 10 different flowers in the Rondebosch Common on November 3.

The group met at the section of the common that has an abundance of flowers currently in bloom and which is located just across from the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.

Ms Brom assigned different flowers to the 20 volunteers who came to help establish which flowers attracted which beetles.

After the three teams collected beetles in jars they returned to the table where Ms Brom and the volunteers were able to look at all the beetle samples.

“Almost half the world’s species of monkey beetles are found in Southern Africa with the highest concentration in the winter rainfall region. Monkey beetles are important pollinators in the region and have driven the evolution of many of our indigenous flowers, most notably in the iridaceae family, where some species can only form seeds if they are visited by the particular beetle that has co-evolved with them,” said Ms Brom.

She would like to continue her research on monkey beetles next year in Brackenfell, the Jack Muller park in Tygerburg, Tokai Plantation, Meadowridge Common and Kenilworth racecourse conservation area.

If any members of the public are interested in taking part in her project they can email her at brompeta@gmail.com