Have you ever wondered what attracts butterflies and other pollinators to flowers? There are three important characteristics: color, shape and scent. Depending on each of these characteristics also determines what type of pollinators visit certain floral varieties.

There are so many floral varieties in the world, and were it not for pollinators like butterflies and bees, more than 100,000 species would cease to exist. Pollination is the process in which pollen is transferred from stamen to pistil, which begins production of seeds and reproduction of flowers.

Floral Characteristics that Attract Pollinators 

Colors

Brightly colored flowers attract pollinators, and some flowers have ultraviolet pigments that only insects such as bees can see. Studies have shown that flowers that are red or have stripes attract bees most. The stripes act as a “landing strip” that indicates where the nectar and pollen are found in the flower.

Scent

The fragrance a flower emits also has an effect on pollinators. Some flowers are tricky and emit scents that attract certain insects. For instance, the rotten smell of the corpse flower attracts flies. Bees can memorize the shape, smell and color of certain flowers to continue pollinating those varieties. The orchid, Dendrobium sinese, releases a scent that mimics a frightened bee as a luring method.

Shape

Some flowers attract pollinators by their shape. Bats for instance pollinate heliconia and utilize the leaves as a habitat. The mirror orchid is shaped like the female sex pheromones of a particular wasp species, tricking the male wasps into mating with it. As a result, the pollen sac rubs off and in an attempt to repeat the same with other orchids, the wasp pollinates other orchids.

Now that you know why insects and birds are attracted to flowers, share this Flower Fact Friday with your customers. Next time they look at their floral arrangement, they’ll appreciate it with a different perspective knowing that because of pollinators flowers exist!┬á