Orchids that mimic out-of-town females smell sexy to male bees
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then some orchid-pollinating bees are being snubbed. Rather than radiating the exact same scent as the local female bees, the orchids mimic the scent of out-of-town females, a new study finds. The male bees, it turns out, seek novelty and are more attracted to the scent of girl bees from a different neighborhood.
The spectacular display of orchid cunning suggests that researchers should look twice at the notion of “flawed mimicry,” especially those where non-exact mimics have been presumed to be imperfect. And research should pay special attention to behavioral and sensory aspects of mimicry systems.