Orchids belonging to the genus Ophrys, such as this early spider orchid (Ophrys sphegodes), have an elaborate pollination mechanism. They emit pheromones that mimic those produced by female solitary bees to attract a male!
Male bees are attracted to the scent and in trying to copulate with the flower, the pollinia becomes attached to the bee and is carried away to another flower to complete pollination. While these early spider orchids might not look exactly like a female bee, the combination of the sexy scent, and a few key tactile and visual cues, is enough to confuse the amorous male bee!
I was thrilled to spot these early spider orchids in flower just near Dover. Other Ophrys species include the bee orchids and the fly orchids.
| behavioural ecologist | evolutionary biologist | photography, travel & wildlife enthusiast | woman in science | vertically challenged |