Cunning, lying flower disguised as a rotten beetle

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this is Butterflies let them down.When Thomas Rupp, a doctoral student in ecology at the University of Paris-Lodron, Salzburg, and his teammates were walking in the forest near Athens, Greece, they saw them: these insects feed on caterpillars called caterpillars. Aristolochia“No matter where I see this butterfly flying,” Rupp said, “I know there must be some Aristoloch Surrounding plants. “

Rapp crouched down and found the unusual flowers of this plant hidden among the rocks and leaves. They are crimson merlots. They look like an expanded bulb connected to a narrow tube with a small hole called a stoma at the top of the tube. The whole process looks a lot like entering the intestine. It’s not. Even stranger.

Ecologists have long suspected that these flowers use a clever trick to attract tourists, and when they leave, they will carry pollen to other flowers of the same species. Most flowers provide colorful petals or lots of sweet nectar in exchange for this service.but not A. Small stoma. “They are liars,” said Stefan Dötterl, Rupp’s consultant and ecologist. “They promised something. They seemed to provide a reward for what they did Is not Have. So they deceive pollinators to pollinate. “

Courtesy of Thomas Rupp

The “deceptive pollination” strategy is not unheard of-some orchids Evolved to Looks and smells like bugs trying to mate with them, and the famous Corpse Flower Attract insects in search of rotten meat.but In a study Published in the journal in May Frontiers of Ecology and Evolution, The research team discovered that these plants use a different dead scent to lure pollinators: the scent of dead beetles. This is the first report on plants that smell like rotten invertebrates. Rupp’s team showed how this unique evolutionary strategy can trap unsuspecting flies.

It should be said that the flies are also very strange. ButterfliesIt is well known that families of flies, including “coffin flies,” lay eggs on rotting beetle corpses. Phorid also often appears in human remains. They can be used as an indicator of where a corpse is buried, and scientists can use them to estimate how long a person has been dead. “They are very important insects that people use for forensic entomology. Here, they are visiting a flower that is believed to mimic a corpse or remains,” said Annie Gasket, A behavioral ecologist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, he was not involved in this work. Gaskett studies how plants (mainly orchids) deceive pollinators. “This is the perfect match you might predict and what they actually found.”

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