Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Creature 14: Ophrys insectifera

A flower that looks like a wasp (if you're a wasp)

Ophrys insectifera or the fly orchid is an orchid which is said to resemble a fly:

Actually this flower is going for a more bee-wasp look. It is pollinated by bees and wasps and does everything it can to trick males into thinking it is a female wasp or bee to draw them in. Not only does its flow grow to look like an hymenopteran but it emits a scent which is supposed to mimic the female hymenoptera pheromones which many of that order use to find mates.

You might be thinking: "hang on, that doesn't look much like a wasp to me." Remember that the insect pollinators see the world through radically different eyes and not only is their visible color range different from ours but all other aspect of their sight are different, e.g. depth perception, motion perception etc... In fact the homology between our sight and insect sight is very, very deep, and we should be careful about what we assume with regard to the way they experience the sensation of sight. But that is a discussion for another place.

Ophyrys insectifera is found throughout most of Europe, being most common in central Europe.

Kingdom: Plantae
Phylum: Angiosperm
Class: Monocotyledon
Order: Asparagales
Family: Orchidaceae
Genus: Ophyrys
Species: insectifera

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