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Neottia ovata with pollinator

Posted by
Johan Dierckx (Wijnegem, Belgium) on 25 May 2010 in Animal & Insect and Portfolio.

Series: European Terrestial Orchids

I spend the whole long weekend searching Orchids in Belgium and Germanny. On monday I was verry lucky to withness a Beetle carrying the pollinia of Neottia ovata (Formerly: Listera ovata - Common twayblade / Grote Keverorchis), the species I showed in yesterdays image.

Orchids are insect-pollinated flowers, so they have some particular adaptations to attract different insects to carry theire pollinia.
This Beetle (Fam. Elateridae - click beetles) was drinking the nectar of the flower which is spread out on the lip in a long trail. You can see this nactar-trail in the two flowers in the right under corner of the image. This trail of nectar leads to a very tiny cup in the center of the flower, filled with a lot more of nectar. In this way the flower guides insects to the center of the flower. Right obove this little "necar-saloon" the pollinia of the flower are waiting ... You can see the yellow pollinia in the flower to the right of the flower with the beetle. When going up, the beetle bumps his head against the base of the pollinia. There is a little glue on the base of the pollinia. So when bumping his head, the beetle gets the pollina of the flower glued on its head. That is what can be seen in this picture. When going to another flower, the pollina will touch the stigma and real cross-pollination is done. So this picture shows a pollinator at work... A marvelous experience to look at ...

Image: Lanaye (B) - 24/05/2010

Canon EOS 400D 1/500 second F/5.6 ISO 200 150 mm

© Johan Dierckx

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All species are photographed in their natural habitat, without cutting or capturing them, and with maximal respect and the least possible disturbance to the environment.

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dang from Atlanta, United States

Well done, Johan. It often goes unmentioned not only bees pollinate, but some insect species are specific pollinators to only one plant type. I applaud you for sharing information, and always enjoy my visits. Thanks, and keep up the excellent work.

25 May 2010 7:44am

@dang: My pleasure, Tom.

KriKridesign from Cully, Switzerland

Jus a fabouluos green symphony..!
(and to your question, yes everything OK, lot of work for the exhibitions, day after day, it becomes more and more concrete, a little stress also...)

25 May 2010 8:13am

@KriKridesign: I wish you all the luck with the expo. Wish it wasn't that far to travel ....
Glad you stil like my greens ....

narcissus from Tehran, Iran

This is fascinating! Well done.

25 May 2010 8:54am

@narcissus: Thank you very much, narcissus.

Marie LC from Dauphiné, France

Beautiful macro, light and shot

25 May 2010 11:22am

@Marie LC: Thank you very much, Marie.

Dutch from Chicagoland, United States

Your story on how the beetle pollinates is fascinating. It's a little funny too to see it carrying the pollinia on it's head like a hat! A great inside story though with a photo that is Johan quality good.

*I changed my AM3 URL, you can get there by clicking on my name for this comment, your favorites if you have me listed or here. http://seraphimcrux.aminus3.com/ Sorry for the confusion. I wanted my Am3 to match everything else I had.

25 May 2010 10:27pm

@Dutch: It is indeed very fascinating to withness this process. I read much about that but it is rare you really can see it happen in nature. I witnessed some pollinators on 3 other species before and it is always splendid seeing an insect carrying the pollinia.
Thanks for the compliments !

Pavan Kaul from Mumbai, India

Johan, this is so so so simply superb!!!

26 May 2010 3:52am

@Pavan Kaul: Thank you very, very much, Pavan.

Monique from Koh Samui, Thailand

Knap mechanisme van de bloem en leuk dat je er een kevertje op hebt kunnen fotograferen! Zolang ze de orchidee zelf niet opeten, maakt 't me niet uit maar anders moeten ze toch echt verhuizen ;) Mooie foto met warme kleuren.

26 May 2010 4:15am

@Monique: Kevertjes fotograferen op deze soort is absoluut geen probleem - ze zitten meestal vol met insecten die van de nectar komen snoepen die zomaar open en bloot in een beekje over de lip loopt. Het specifieke van deze foto is dat ze de beide stuifmeelklompjes van de orchidee op haar hoofd draagt en dus zo zorgt voor kruisbestuiving. Het is pas zeker dat deze soort kever een echte bestuiver is als je ze kan zien met de pollinia op het hoofd. Niet elk insect heeft de juiste afmetingen om voor bestuiving te zorgen.
En inderdaad, sommige insecten knabbelen wel eens aan de bloemetjes ... dat hoort er nu eenmaal bij. Gemiddeld staan er bij deze soort op 1 stengel tussen de 50 en 100 bloemetjes, genoeg dus om te zorgen dat er volgend jaar weer nieuwe komen ...

Mascha from Kootstertille, Netherlands

Kleur, details en compositie alles klopt voor mij!!

26 May 2010 7:44am

@Mascha: Dank je. Blij dat je deze wel geslaagd kan vinden :-)

daniela scharnowski from Berlin, Germany

Now this is splendid!
I´m torn between the beetle and the crispiness of the flowers and their fabulous shapes and colours. Excellently done Johan!!

27 May 2010 10:17pm

@daniela scharnowski: Thanks. It really needed a quick ation to take this moment. I'm relieved it turned out so well. There is no second chance ...

Ralph from Overijssel, Netherlands

Mooie kleuren die warm over komen, leuk ook dat je dat kevertje er ook op hebt!

28 May 2010 8:49am

@Ralph: Het kevertje was het doel van de foto ... Of beter gezegd: de stuifmeelklompjes die het op zijn hoofd gekleefd heeft. (Dit is trouwens ook een kniptorsoort zoals op uw foto). Het is een foto die illustreerd hoe de bestuiving bij orchideeën in zijn werk gaat... heel bijzonder mechanisme en niet echt frequent waar te nemen.

Canon EOS 400D
1/500 second
ISO 200
150 mm