March 2018

How orchids lure pollinating insects - Ophrys holoserica

"In the 16th and 17th centuries, wealthy people wore perfumes to mask their nasty body odours. In nature too, some organisms produce smells to disguise their true nature and deceive others. When it comes to lying with scent, orchids are the world champions.
Across Europe, Australia, Africa and South America, orchids have independently evolved ways to manufacture irresistible bouquets. Many of these smells mimic the sex pheromones – otherwise known as aphrodisiacs – of insects.
Orchids release a perfume that mimics a fertile female insect, luring in male insects. Overcome by the sexy female scent, the males are duped into attempting to mate with the flower. During their futile attempts at copulation, they pick up a gobbet of pollen, so that when they visit another flower they will pollinate it.
And what do the male insects get in exchange for their labours? Absolutely nothing."
Retrieved from:

Image below: Ophrys holoserica, Bumble-bee Orchid, Hummel-Ragwurz. Location, Saarland area, Germany in May 2016.

Ophrys holoserica Hummel-Ragwurz_
© 2018 Jürgen Weiland contact me