In a comment on last week’s post on orchids, reader André Schuiteman, whose team discovered the first night-blooming orchid described in that post, calls our attention to a remarkable film showing a different orchid, Angraecum sesquipedale (“Darwin’s orchid), being pollinated by the long-tongued moth, presumably Xanthopan morgani. It’s a rare sight indeed since pollination occurs only at night. Remember that Darwin, confronted by this flower with its remarkably long nectar spur, theorized that there must be a moth in the forest whose tongue was long enough to reach the nectar (that has to happen to effect pollination, since the moth’s body has to contact the orchid flower itself). This moth was finally discovered in 1903.
The video was made in Madagascar by a friend of mine, Phil DeVries from the University of New Orleans, a remarkable—and, as you’ll see, intrepid—naturalist, and author of the two-volume Butterflies of Costa Rica and their Natural History.
It’s really lovely to see how excited Phil gets when he finally sees the pollination. Those are the juicy moments that every naturalist lives for.