In dry fields, thickets, and along roadsides there grows a pink-flowered plant which conceals a fascinating characteristic: the flowers have internal structures that provide protection against insect robbers who would taste the precious nectar without completing the pollination task as required by the plant. Nectar is stored at the base of the petals, and surrounding this base is a circle of odd-shaped structural traps. Small insects find their mouth parts caught up in these traps when withdrawing their mouth parts from the nectar site. Larger insects like bees and butterflies are efficient pollinators, and they can jerk free from the traps. Unable to extricate themselves, dead flies and small moths are often found dangling from the individual flowers.
Copyright © 2004 William T. Hathaway.