Flowers look way more beautiful if you're a bug


Originally published at:


If I were a bug I’d worship at those beautiful temples of nectar too.


Though these flowers look beautifully funky to us under UV, it’s most telling in regard to insects’ evolved attraction to flowers to see UV photos of the flowers of species plants (and not garden hybrids).

This post from Dr. Klaus Schmitt’s blog discusses work he did for an American Museum of Natural History exhibit, and shows photos of what bees and butterflies see when they look at a given species of flower (hardly seems possible that all bees and all butterflies see flowers alike, but what do I know). His site has lots more photos like this, as he’s done work for outlets such as the BBC, etc.:


The world may look cool if you’re a bug, but your sex life totally sucks.


Hey, spoiler alert!


I was thinking along similar lines, but about life expectancy.




Well YEAH! Humans can barely see at all, when you compare our eyes to all the eyes that have evolved in nature we’re practically blind. I want multi-spectral eyes with polarization filters and I want them now. Or as soon as they have comparable resolution to by dumb squishy goo-eyeballs.


Interesting insights into how bugs see things.

Bugs are some place between humans and ultra-violet light in the evolution path. Thus, they can see X-rays in UV format!

Humans are closer to the other end of the evolution pathway, so they see a clearer, more colorful picture.

That being said, people will son begin to realize that flowers, regarding those types without fruits, exist solely to feed insects (bugs) and increase their people.

But, then again, if insects don’t exist in abundance, who’ll eat all the biomass in the world. And, the rate at which humans are creating it (biomass) there’ll need to be many more continents of flowers before Earth starts assimilating the garbage again.


Flowers, plants, with or without fruit, as well as bugs and humans, exist for one purpose, reproduction. The ways we all coexist, sometimes in a symbiotic way, is merely a means to this end.


Or have a black light.


The fungi would like a word with you. In fact all the coal deposited during the Carboniferous period (358-298 million years before last Tuesday) basically exists because the fungi in existence back then hadn’t yet evolved the ability to break down lignin. As soon as they did, fungus diversity exploded and massive carbon depositing stopped. So, it’s the fungi who eat all the biomass in the world, on land at least.



Also, when I first clicked on the post, I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be about UV coloring, or the fact that some flowers literally evolved to be sexually attractive to some insects.


This Atlantic thing runs down some kinds of animals that see UV:


Some animals that can see/feel infrared:


It’s more like we evolved to not see in ultra violate light. Humans have a filter in the lenses of their eyes that block UV rays, people who have had cateract surgery have those filters removed and can see partly in to the UV spectrum. One reason for this is that UV light is incredibly harmful to your vision, but insects generally don’t live long enough to have their eyes negatively impacted by this and so evolved to better see in this spectrum.


What about birds then? They often have relatively long lifespans, but are also able to see UV. Granted it could have something to do with the pectin organ in their eye.


And I bet when you’re a fly a steaming pile of poo smells like fresh baked cookies.


Also, it’s just very near UV, AFAIK. Wouldn’t be surprised if lower wavelength would be filtered out completely.

@AndreaJames, I advise to look at Bjørn Rørslett had a great website there, back in the days, with tons of great advice for UV photography. I used this technique in my masters-equivalent thesis, carrying a 10k nikkor lens attached to a D70s through the forest in one of the poorest countries of the world. Oh, the fun of it. I got eaten alive. Sadly, none of my target species had any UV pattern to speak of…


It’s interesting how birds can thus see UV without frying their eyes, but that their UV colors are structural, not pigmentation.


Yes, evolution has its ways - ways we can’t seem to comprehend because we’re part of it!