Better Than Real: Males prefer flower's scent to female wasp's | Science News

MISSION CRITICAL

Support credible science journalism.

Subscribe to Science News today.


News

Better Than Real: Males prefer flower's scent to female wasp's

By
10:45am, January 29, 2003

In an extreme case of sex fakery, an orchid produces oddball chemicals that mimic a female wasp's allure so well that males prefer the floral scents to the real thing, scientists say. This plant's come-on is different from that of a related orchid that flirts with bees.

The Mediterranean orchid Ophrys speculum manufactures whiffs of the same scent that the female wasp Campsoscolia ciliata does. The flower misleads male wasps into mating attempts that benefit the plant by spreading pollen, explains Manfred Ayasse of the University of Ulm in Germany. He and his colleagues have now identified the attractants as chemicals not previously known in plants. The orchids produce them more abundantly than female wasps do, and male

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join the Society today or Log in.

Get Science News headlines by e-mail.

More from Science News

From the Nature Index Paid Content