i suddenly had this question on whether insects can see colours. we are so used to teaching students that insect pollinated flowers have large colourful petals. but of what use are the colours if insects can see them right?
did you know that most scientists theorize that insects evolved to see petals? while most of us, like myself, thought that flowers evolved to attract insects…
it seems that 100 000000 yrs ago, somewhere during the mesozoic era, flowers evolved from plants. and so spore-eating insects began to eat pollen too. over time, flowers developed nectar, a more enticing attraction for insects. and scents. and then flowers developed coloured pigments calle anthocyanin to inform insects that nectar was available.
the result? the age-old story of the butt of the insect brushing against pollen grain and then depositing it onto the stigma of flowers to allow pollination and fertilization.
so is the theory that colourful petals attract insects true?
insects can have simple and compound eyes. insects with simple eyes can only differentiate light and dark. nothing more than that. insects with compound eyes cant really see red colour very well. but they do see ultraviolet light pretty well. a spectrum of light that we cant see with the naked human eye.
and what these compound-eye insects see, are supposedly intricate patterns on the petals highlighting the pathways to the anthers and stigmas, not forgetting nectar guides.
so if flowers evolved to attract insects, insects too must evolve to indulge in the sweetness of the flowers. thereby, evolving effective mouth parts and body hair to carry pollen.
and so there it goes………. insects and flowering plants…