Moth Pollination

Biol 324 Introduction To Seed Plant Taxonomy

Moth pollination syndrome: phalaenophily

- Flowers opening in the evening or at night
- pale or white, nectar guides absent (colour vision does not work at night)
- strong sweet odor which may be stronger or only produced at night,
- long tubed, usually radially symmetrical
- may or may not have landing platform as some moths feed while hovering
- Pollination by large hawkmoths - sphingophily - associated with very long floral tubes

- Moths are mostly nocturnal, except hovering hawk moths
- Find plants by scent and cannot see colors at night
- Examples: some Lonicera, night blooming cacti, some Nicotiana

Hawkmoth pollination - Sphingophily
A distinctive subsyndrome of moth pollination. Because hawkmoths are large and long-tongued, hawkmoth pollinated flowers can in turn be very large
e.g. Datura meteloides – tube 8cm,

Another example:
Angraecum orchids have very long spurs - e,g. Angraecum longicalcar
Angraecum sesquipedale from Madagascar also has one of the longest spurs
Darwin first saw them – predicted that a moth would be discovered with a proboscis with
the same length. This was confirmed after his death: a new species of long tongued
hawkmoth – 18 inches!

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