We had learned in our previous blog that colors of flowers are the major attraction for insects.
Color and looks, however, are not the only things which attract insects to flowers. In fact, a lot more happens.
Fine lines of flower petals are a guiding source for insects to reach the nectar. Then, pollen grains stick to their bodies, and travel with them to other flowers, contributing to reproduction.
After some time, insects and birds start correlating those colors to their source of food. Naturally, they become attracted to the color where they had first found nectar before.
Flower scents can be appreciated by many. Flowers fill a space with their nice and pleasant scent, but people are not the only ones who have this appreciation.
Insects are also attracted to flower scents. It contributes to their reproduction. It works just like how we associate the appetizing scent of food to its flavor.
In a study conducted by Shun K Hirota, Kozue Nitta and their team at the Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Kyushu University, Fukuoka, Japan, it was established that swallowtail butterflies were more easily attracted to scents that were very subtle and not easily detectable by human’s olfactory organs.
The same results were seen with hawkmoths which preferred yellowish coloured flowers and with almost no scent. It was also observed that some flowers bloom only at the night to attract nocturnal pollinators such as noctuid moths and beetles.
While it can all be fascinating, further experiments are required to determine the role of generalist pollinators to understand the evolutionary processes of flower color and scent changes of nocturnal flowers.
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