Range and Habitat in Illinois
The native Wild Crab Apple is occasional in southern Illinois and uncommon or absent in the central and northern sections of the state (see Distribution Map). Habitats include open woodlands, woodland openings, woodland borders, savannas, and thickets. Wild Crab Apple can be found in both upland and bottomland areas where other deciduous shrubs and trees are present, particularly where there has been some disturbance to reduce the overhead canopy of dominant trees.
Flower-Visiting Insects of Wild Sweet Crabapple in Illinois
Malus coronaria (Wild Sweet Crabapple)
(Insects suck nectar; observations are from Robertson)
Apidae (Apinae): Apis mellifera fq; Apidae (Bombini): Bombus auricomus, Bombus griseocallis fq, Bombus impatiens fq, Bombus pensylvanica fq; Anthophoridae (Eucerini): Synhalonia speciosa fq; Megachilidae (Osmiini): Osmia lignaria lignaria
Nymphalidae: Danaus plexippus
Hesperiidae: Erynnis juvenalis
The flowers are cross-pollinated by honeybees, bumblebees, digger bees (Synhalonia spp.), and other long-tongued bees. Other floral visitors include small short-tonged bees (Andrenid, Halictid), butterflies, and skippers. These insects obtain nectar from the flowers, although some of the bees may collect pollen. Like other Malus spp., Wild Crab Apple attracts its fair share of insect pests. The caterpillars of many moths feed on the leaves and other parts of this small tree (see Moth Table). The caterpillars of the butterflies Limenitis archippus (Viceroy), Limenitis arthemis astyanax (Red-Spotted Purple), Papilio glaucus (Tiger Swallowtail), and Satyrium liparops strigosum (Striped Hairstreak) also feed on the leaves. Beetles and weevils that feed on Malus spp. include Rynchaenus pallicarnis (Apple Flea Weevil), Anthonomus quadrigibbus (Apple Curculio), Conotrachelus nenuphar (Plum Curculio), Macrodactylus subspinosus (Rose Chafer), Popillia japonica (Japanese Beetle), Saperda candida (Round-Headed Apple Tree Borer), Saperda cretata (Spotted Apple Tree Borer), Agrilus vittaticollis (Apple Root Borer), Chrysobothris femorata (Flat-Headed Apple Tree Borer), Monarthrum mali (Apple Wood Stainer), Amphicerus bicaudatus (Apple Twig Borer), and Paria fragariae (Strawberry Root Worm). Other insects feeders include aphids, leafhoppers, treehoppers, and other insects (see Insect Table). Among vertebrate animals, many upland gamebirds and songbirds occasionally eat the fruit (see Bird Table), as do such mammals as the Black Bear, Gray Fox, Red Fox, Opossum, Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Fox Squirrel, Gray Squirrel, Meadow Vole, and Deer Mouse. Cottontail Rabbits browse on the foliage and twigs of young saplings during the summer, and gnaw on the bark of older trees during the winter. White-Tailed Deer also browse on the twigs and foliage. Because it is densely branched and thorny, Wild Crab Apple provides nesting habitat and cover for the Yellow-Breasted Chat, Song Sparrow, Orchard Oriole, and other birds.