- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Ancient plants manipulate insects for hot, smelly sex
For plants too, sex can be a hot and smelly affair. In most plant-insect partnerships, the pollinator seems to do most of the work by voluntarily transferring pollen from plant to plant in exchange for a meal.
But an ancient lineage of plants – the cycads – takes more active steps to ensure its future with a bizarre combination of heat and smells. In the afternoon, they use heat and a toxic stench to drive insects out of male cones only to lure them into female cones in the evening with a more alluring scent.
Cycads were around before the time of the dinosaurs and their six-legged puppets are a group of similarly ancient insects called thrips. The thrips make