The Relationships Between Colors of Flowers and Insects
We can all admire beautiful colors of flowers.
Colors play important roles in determining the flower.
Beautiful colors of red roses or yellow sunflowers are seen the same way that people are seen with black hair or blonde hair.
Have you ever wondered about the origins of those bright colors and how they have important roles in flower and insect relationships?
If you are wondering, this article will provide answers.
How Do Flowers Get Their Colors?
The flowers carry pigments when they are grown, just like how people are born with a particular eye color from genes and heredity.
Pigments are mostly molecules that reflect a certain amount of wavelengths of light. Different wavelengths of light means various colors that the human eye perceives.
ß-carotene is a common type of carotenoid that gives the sunflower its bright yellow color.
Similarly, anthocyanins are responsible for the blues, purples, reds, and even pinks in flowers.
Chlorophyll is a pigment which gives leaves their green color.
Why Is Color Important For Insects?
Pollination is essential for reproduction in plants.
For pollination, wind water, birds and insects play important roles. They are carriers. They carry pollen grains from one flower to another.
Flowers with brighter colors are more attractive to birds and insects. It's perfectly natural that a plant should need an outside carrier to help its reproduction and the genetics will give the flower its brighter colors.
It's usually because of brighter colors that insects and birds will take the fruits.
In fact, to lure hummingbirds, certain flower genetics will make the petals red and orange-ish.
On the other hand, some flowers produce bright colored petals to attract honey bees.
The Plant To Pollinator Attraction
It's not just the colors and superficial-looks which attract insects to flowers. There is much more.
The fine lines on the petals of a flower act as a guiding source for insects to reach the nectar. Then, pollen grains stick to their body and travel with them to other flowers, contributing to reproduction.
After awhile, insects and birds start relating the color to their food source. They effortlessly get attracted to the color where they found the nectar earlier.
If the flower is independent of insects and birds as carriers and solely depends on either other natural ways or self, the color can be seen as dull and less bright.
The soft fragrance of rose is a favorite smell to many people. It can fill any space with a soothing scent. But we are not the only ones who get attracted to this fragrance.
Apart from the bright colors, insects also get attracted to the fragrance of roses. This is a tactic adopted by the flowers to get contributions in their reproduction. It works just like how we associate the appetizing smell of food to its taste.
In a study conducted by Shun K Hirota, Kozue Nitta and their team at 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 humans olfactory organs. It was also found that they preferred reddish colors than others.
The same results were seen with hawk moths, which preferred yellowish colored flowers and with almost no scent. It was also observed that some flowers bloom only in the night to attract the nocturnal pollinators such as noctuid moths and beetles.
Do Nocturnal Flowers Get More Visitors?
While this is really fascinating, further experiments are needed to determine the role of generalist pollinators to understand the evolutionary process of flower color and scent changes in nocturnal flowers.
While other features, like petal textures and fragrance, are essential for relationships between flowers and insects.
Colors play the most vital role.
Colors are responsible for the survival of flower generation one after another.
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