Saturday, 12 May 2018

The Thieving Carpenter

The cottage where I'm staying in California has Mexican bush sage in the garden. Like all salvias, the flowers have a 'staminal lever mechanism'. To get at the nectar, pollinators have to push against one arm of the stamen. This activates a lever mechanism; the other arm swings down and deposits pollen on the pollinator's body.*

But some animals cheat. Instead of entering through the front door, they bite a hole at the base of the flower and steal the nectar. Today I caught a carpenter bee in flagrante delicto.

And here is the hole, with my thumb for scale:

*To really appreciate this marvel, see Fig. 1 of Stöbbe et al and Fig. 2 of Claßen-Bockhoff et al.