Male Wasps Think Orchids Are Sexy

Orchids that look like female wasps make life confusing for male wasps. The men think the flowers are female wasps, therefore, they try to copulate with them, which doesn’t work very well. They just waste their precious sperm. “Unquestionably, producing sperm, ejaculate, or seminal fluids is costly for many animals,” reports the study, published in The American Naturalist. “The energetic demands of sperm production can result in reduced body mass, a shortened life span, or limited lifetime sperm production.” Nature must have done a really good job with these orchids, because the male pollinators sometimes prefer them to the females they mimic. The male wasps will even prematurely end a romp with a female wasp to visit an orchid. Poor gals. The orchids are super smart, too, because by tricking the men into getting busy with them instead of wasps, they’re limiting the future wasp female population while possibly increasing the male population (which would then pollinate the orchids), because female wasps can asexually reproduce male wasps, but not females. [Reuters]