Sunday, September 23, 2007

Of Ant Orchids and Hover Flies

I was sitting at home, processing a few photos, when Denis called in for a cuppa and a chat about the environmental damage being caused to our water catchment areas.

He asked if I would like to take a trip to see the Ant Orchids that are flowering at the moment. Even though I think he likes to push my camera skills, and my mind, to the limit trying to photograph these little tiny little flowers, I cant resist a challenge - so off we went.

We soon found a patch with the following blooms...

The pseudo insect form is quite clearly visible in the photo on the left, while the right hand shot shows well the pollen receptors.

The area was alive with insects, and I managed to get the following shots of a hover fly.

Denis, meanwhile, had found another Ant Orchid sub species. This is pictured below, again showing the pseudo insect that , along with a sexual pheromone, helps in the pollination of this plant......yes, these orchids are houses of ill repute for the wasps that visit them.

Will wonders never cease.


  1. Hi David

    What's this about me trying to push your photo skill? Hey, I need the assistance of someone who can get in as close as you can, with your camera. Besides, your coffee is always welcome.

    The first of the Ant Orchids (which has the "pseudo-insect" restricted to the half of the labellum (tongue)) is Myrmechila trapeziformis (Diamond Ant Orchid) - so named for the shape of the blade of the "labellum".
    The second plant has a much larger area of the labellum covered by the scent-producing glands which are used to attract pollinators. That one is called Myrmechila formicifera ("Common Ant Orchid").
    There are little dark spots on the labellum, beyond the pseudo-insect,which run in a line out along the centre of the blade of the labellum. You have picked up the two false "eyes" on the head of the pseudo-insect really well.

    And, as you now know - these plants are really small, (only about 100mm - 4 inches - high) so, getting that detail is a real challenge. Well done.

    As for your catching a hover fly, face on, in mid-air, that is just showing off!



  2. Just looking at your last photo again, David, the damned insect looks like it could walk off the blade of the flower. It is amazingly realistic, isn't it.

    Terrific shot.


  3. Hi Denis,

    I've seen your photo exhibitions of orchids.... ;)

    Thanks for the field trip.



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