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Ever fall head over heels in love only to find out that your paramour is actually a plant?

Perhaps not, but it's a regular occurrence for the Campsoscolia ciliata.

Campsoscolia ciliata is a type of wasp. And Ophrys speculum is a type of orchid that lures the lonely hearts of males wasps.

Orchids want wasps to pay attention to their blooms. That's because flowering plants spread pollen partly by getting it stuck on insects, which inadvertently rub it off on the next plant. Orchids have a clever strategy to bring this about--they imitate female wasps that are ready to mate, and let male wasps give it a try.

Love Potion No. 9

The trick is done in two ways. One is by producing a bloom that looks a bit like a female wasp, with a covering of red fuzz. More importantly, though, the orchid produces a chemical mix that is very close to the one used by female wasps to signal their readiness to mate. In fact, orchids produce a stronger scent than actual female wasps do, making them seem super‑attractive.

The male wasps, thinking this is true love at last, attempt to mate with the orchid. This of course doesn't work, but it does serve to rub the wasp's body all along the orchid's bloom, getting plenty of pollen stuck. Male wasps go home to take cold showers. Meanwhile, the orchids reproduce like crazy!

Read More:

"Better Than Real: Males Prefer Flower's Scent to Female Wasp's" (Science News)


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