Flowers have several advantages for attracting pollinating insects: smell, color, but also … humidity! Thus, bumblebees are able to detect what researchers call “floral moisture”, reveals a study published on June 23, 2021 Journal of Experimental Biology.
Ventilate the nest to regulate humidity
Flower moisture is a particularly humid area within spaces that are free in the flower structure. Present in many species, it was created thanks to a combination of nectar evaporation and plant transpiration. “But it is not clear whether such variations in flower moisture can be used as a food signal, and this has been shown in only one type of pollinator, Hyles lineata “, note the British authors of this new study. However, the sensitivity of insects to ambient humidity is already well known, which was a clue for the scientific community. For example, the European bee takes into account the humidity in its nest. structures.
Sensillae – these sensory organs present on the skin of insects – are distributed on the antennae of bumblebees; they could also allow them to be sensitive to moisture. Until you discover those flowers? Researchers have evaluated this ability in terrestrial bumblebees (Terrestrial bomb). To do this, they designed artificial flowers that produced a controlled level of humidity that was identical to that that real flowers could develop. They also measured how much this moisture can affect the behavior of these insects in the diet.