SPIDER ORCHIDS & POLLINATORS

Members of the spider orchid group (Arachnorchis species) may have one or more different vectors for pollination.

The orchids are not discriminating between sizes of visitors.

Smaller insects can come and go freely but if the insect is too large, it may become wedged because its wings are too big.  It may be able to free its wings but the excessive weight prevents the labellum from opening and the insect is stuck.

In the case shown in the photo (right), the labellum has relaxed because the insect became lodged, died and no longer provided the weight at the base of the labellum.

This may be detrimental to the orchid because no other insect can get to the pollinia and the trapped insect cannot transfer the attached pollen to another orchid.

Of course, there is always a winner because spider orchids are often found with a resident 'spider' who can then make a meal of the trapped insect.

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