Plants lure bugs with colour-smell combo

Researchers have found that some plants use colour and fragrance together to identify themselves to pollinating insects.

A beetle sits on a flower of phrygana (Cistus creticus).
A beetle sits on a flower of phrygana (Cistus creticus).
Aphrodite Kantsa

Researchers on the Greek island of Lesbos have discovered that many of the plants there – like the one shown above – show a surprising correlation between their scent and the colour of their flowers.

The scientists believe that, by connecting visual and olfactory channels, the flowers render their signal stronger and more stable under the intense environmental conditions of the Aegean.

On windy days, fragrances may dissipate but colors will remain viable floral attractants, whereas fragrance could be the primary attractant when flowers are concealed by dense vegetation.

The surprising results are published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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