The Sleepy Catchfly is “sleepy” because its widely-branched flowers open only for a brief period during sunlight. Sticky bands of flypaper-like glue below each node on the stems serve as an efficient means of blocking certain crawling insects. Beetles, ants, small flies and other unwelcome stem-climbers are discouraged by a foot-tangling-gooey maze. These tiny flowers seem to invite larger, efficient, flying insect pollinators to have a sip of nectar. Smaller, stem-crawling insects, that are less efficient pollinators, are deprived of the gourmet sip; after all, one of the specialized actions of the visiting insect is to achieve pollination.
Casual observance of this flower with its pinkish petals is unlikely. Although the Sleepy Catchfly is common in our surroundings, the presence of sunshine and an enthusiastic search may be required to appreciate its beauty and functional niche.
(It should be noted that a few botanists are reluctant to accept the abovementioned explanation as a realistic fact.)
Copyright © 2004 William T. Hathaway.