|Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor) nectaring on ButtonBush, not Pipe Vine|
|Southwestern Pipevine Aristolochia watsonii|
|Ear of a packrat left, pipe vine flower right|
|No-see-um, Ceratopogonidae (Biting Midges)|
The Pipe Vine grows usually in the shady, humid micro climate under shrubs -ideal micro habitat for the little flies. Drawn by odor and ear-like shape of the flower, and expecting a blood meal, the midges enter. The shape of the flower and inward-directing hairs in its narrowed throat trap the flies temporarily, often over night when pollen release is at its peak.. In their attempts to escape the flies dislodge pollen and transfer the pollen they may have already bought with them to the stigma. In the morning the pollinated flower releases the captives. Because the flowers provide super-stimuli, the flies' instinctual reaction is to fall for the same deceit over and over.
|The fruit of Southwestern Pipevine Aristolochia watsonii, and Swallowtail caterpillars feeding|
Thank you to lepidopterist Fred Heath who reminded me of this interesting story during our recent nature walk in Sabino Canyon. Also see Mark Dimmit https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_aristolochiaceae.php