I ran into some orchid hunters on the weekend and instead of doing what I was “supposed” to do, I played hooky and went out into the fields to play with my new friends. It was well worth the effort (fun?) because we may have stumbled on to something new to science.
Orchids are some of the most mysterious and mesmerising flowers ever. Part of their allure is in their behaviour. Behaviour? Plants have behaviour? Yes, there is an interrelationship between the flower and the insects that pollinate it. Each orchid species seems to have evolved more bizarre mating rituals than the last. There are peculiar relationships between orchids and wasps. And there are equally peculiar relationships between orchids and flies.
What my friends and I may have discovered over the weekend, as we investigated a some ground orchids called “Midge Orchids” is the strange behaviour of the fly as it transfers pollen sacs from one orchid to another. The Australian Museum and an international entomologist would like to know more about it as it’s new to them too!
But alas! I can’t tell you about it yet. I’ll be proposing this series of photos as a feature for a major national magazine. So until it’s published in their pages, I can only reveal a hint of what’s going on. Here’s a little “reveal” of one of the photos, but with the fly discreetly blurred for now.