Love is in the air… and death.

So Valentine’s Day….  ugh.  Yuck.  Whatever.  But in the spirit of this “holiday”, I will consent to write about something relatable and entomologically awesome.  The obvious thing to do would be to write about pheromones.  Eh, boring and predictable.  Insect giving love gifts would be fitting, but I already did that.  So how about attraction?

There has been a long history of evolution between plants and insects.  Plants developed

Scarab beetle pollinating a sunflower.

flowers to attract insect to aid in pollination.  The plant gets pollinated and produces offspring, the insect gets food.  Many flowers have a scent to aid in attracting insects to their little love nest.  Not only do they produce a scent, but they produce that scent at the ideal time for their pollination needs.  Plants that flower at night will maximize their output in the evening, and new flowers that aren’t quite ready to be pollinated will smell the best after they are a few days old.  In the case of some flowers like orchids, there is only one lover that they will accept; only one species with the ability to pollinate them.


My favorite example of an aroma of sensual scent attracting it’s perfect pollinator

corpse flower
Corpse flower.

is Amorphophallus titanum.   What better example for Valentine’s Day than a gigantic phallic flower emitting a sweet attractive scent?  Okay, so it’s the scent of rotting corpses, but that is like the sweetest perfume for the flesh flies and carrion beetles it attracts to pollinate it.  Hence how it gets the common name of the “corpse flower“.  Even better, this beauty blossoms infrequently, in some cases it is a few decades between blooms.


So next time you give/receive flowers and you stick your nose into those blooms and take a big sniff, remember: that flower just wanted a little love from an insect and you have just ruined it’s day.  Spread the love entomological awesomeness.



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