Thursday

Where to find a matching tie?

Here's a species of orchid bee in the Euglossini tribe, from the Peruvian Amazon. 

In contrast with the wasp I recently posted, this beautiful bee is solitary. I imagine him sitting alone on his porch sipping a martini after a long day and wondering how the heck he is going to find a tie that doesn’t clash with the rest of his outfit. 
An orchid bee, (Euglossini,) from the  Peruvian Amazon
Orchid bee, Peruvian Amazon
The one in my photo is almost certainly a male.   See the enlarged structure at the top of his hind leg? It’s there for the purpose of storing the volatile compounds he collects from orchids and other flowers when he visits them. His forelegs have specially adapted spurs which he uses to pass the compounds back and into the stash he keeps in that enlarged area.
Researchers originally believed these compounds were stored for release during mating flights and their job was to attract females. But the current thinking is apparently that it’s the intensity and array of compounds released by the males that are important: These advertise his ability to locate multiple species of orchids and females are better able to select a mate who has shown superior collecting skills.  
Orchid bees need to gather pollen and nectar from a variety of flowers as they come into their flowering phases throughout the year so it makes sense that females would want to choose a mate who is an all-rounder. 
These bees also help pollinate orchids. Interestingly, and presumably to ensure reproductive success for themselves, some species of orchid “hide” their pollen.  When an insect such as the orchid bee searches for it inside the flower the entire pollinating structure (pollinarium) closes and traps a leg or foot.  He flies off carrying the entire structure which helps make sure he pollinates the next orchid of that species he visits. 
This process can be seen in the USA in common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) which uses the same trick on pollinating insects. If you wait by a flower during peak pollination you’ll frequently see honeybees either temporarily trapped on the flower or crawling about with a pollinarium attached to a leg.  More photos of insects and amphibians from the Peruvian Amazon are posted here:https://www.jeremysquire.com/Macro-photographs-from-Peruvian-Amazon
Macro photograph using Olympus OM-D E-M1ii. Lens: Zuiko 60mm. TT350 Godox flash with DIY diffuser.