Sex Pranks of the Orchid World

By Carl Zimmer | November 23, 2009 4:51 pm

To find out how orchids exploit sex-crazed wasps for their own reproduction (and for lots of other marvels of coevolution), check out the November issue of Discover, which has an excerpt from my new book, The Tangled Bank.


Comments (3)

  1. I’ve been following another blog about evolution that mentioned this behavior: Orchids mimic alarm pheromones of bees to attract wasps.

    The two interesting points I took away from that other blog are:

    1) The idea of wasps as flying penises.

    2) The idea that you’re better mimicking an alarm pheromone of a prey species than a sex pheromone because you double the number of potential pollinators.

  2. Gal Haspel

    Going on a limb, not reading the article you sited (how scholarly of me :) ), I would just add that in most species of parasitoid wasps I can think of, females are the only ones to hunt a living prey (I am sure some real entomologist will swing by and let us know). So, still targeting half of the clients but it’s the other half.

  3. Gal Haspel

    The dupe wasp! Ha!


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The Loom

A blog about life, past and future. Written by DISCOVER contributing editor and columnist Carl Zimmer.

About Carl Zimmer

Carl Zimmer writes about science regularly for The New York Times and magazines such as DISCOVER, which also hosts his blog, The LoomHe is the author of 12 books, the most recent of which is Science Ink: Tattoos of the Science Obsessed.


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