Well-Nigh Wordless Wednesday: Crane Flies of Winter

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been SUPER cold in many parts of the US!  We had record low temps in my area a few days ago, so we got hit pretty hard too. Unsurprisingly, the insects have been a wee bit scarce with the cold snap, but these are still going strong:

Crane fly orchid

Crane fly orchid, Tipularia discolor

That’s a crane fly orchid, the closest thing to an actual crane fly I’m likely to see for a while.  They’re awesome plants!  That one leaf pops up in the fall and represents the entire above-ground part of the plant until it disappears in the early spring.  Then in the summer, a tall stalk with 40 or so vaguely crane fly shaped green flowers appears where the leaf used to be.  There are no flowers where there are leaves and no leaves when there are flowers – a pretty funky system!  Even better: the orchid flowers are pollinated by noctuid moths.  When a moth visits a flower, the plant deposits a sticky pollinium (a packet of pollen) on one of the moth’s eyes.  The moth then pollinates other flowers WITH ITS EYEBALL when it finds a new one.  What a crazy bizarre plant!  I enjoy them quite a bit.  Still, I think I’d still prefer to see some insects…

Stay warm everyone!


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