Bees and moths are ‘stealing’ nectar from Western prairie fringed orchids without pollinating the flowers. These orchids are declining, and researchers believe the nectar thieves are the reason. Researchers captured bumble bees and hawk moths and observed their nectar stealing techniques to better understand how they were stealing nectar without pollinating the orchids. The hawk moths have tongues that are a length more than double that of the orchid spurs, so they can get to the nectar without pollinating the orchids. The bumble bees are able to avoid being covered in pollen by cutting into the side of the orchid spurs with their mouthparts.

 

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Moths and Bees Steal Nectar From Rare Orchids, Researchers Say

One reason Western prairie fringed orchids (Platanthera praeclara) are one the decline in North Dakota may be due to sneaky romaing hawk moths and bumble bees and a little feeding technique they’re using that scientists call “nectar larceny,” which is …

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