Orchids are from Venus, pollinators are from Mars

…Australian orchids are engaged in an arms race, using sensory overload to seduce male insects. Macquarie University PhD student Anne Gaskett has discovered just how they do it. Her work is important to the conservation of orchids and the control of economically important agricultural pests.”I have accumulated the first compelling evidence of an ongoing and escalating arms race between orchids and their unwitting insect pollinators,” Gaskett, says, “Over generations the insects learn to avoid having sex with orchids, and this means only the most persuasive orchids reproduce, which drives the acceleration of orchid subterfuge.”

. . .Gaskett has been studying the hardworking Orchid Dupe wasp (Lissopimpla excelsa), which is fooled into copulating with not just one, but five native Tongue Orchid species (Cryptostylis) in urban and regional Australia. All the Tongue Orchid species mimic the female Orchid Dupe wasp. But, to the human eye, they look quite different.. . .Australian orchids’ sneaky sex tricks