Science News

Hot Flowers Make Perfect Love Nest For Beetles

Sun, 25th Jan 2004

Part of the show Quantum Mechanics & The Science of Spiderman

Beetles on the look out for a hot love nest have everything they need in the flowers of a tropical plant found in South America called Philodendron solimeosense. It's nice and warm in there, there's great food to eat and for a beetle it smells fantastic. The metabolic rate of the flower is about as high as that of a flying humming bird and can raise the temperature inside to as much as 350 °C - scientists used to think that these flowers generate heat to help vaporise the scent and attract insects, but now it seems that the heat also benefits the insects directly. By snuggling into a warm flower it means that the beetles can save valuable energy that they would otherwise have to use warming themselves up so they're ready for activity. Groups of beetles congregate in these flowers to mate and feed throughout the night and rest during the following day, and when they leave they help out the plant by carrying pollen stuck on bodies and transferring it to other plants. So if you're a beetle looking for hot loving, these flowers are definitely the place to be.

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