A study published this summer in The American Naturalist, called “Orchid Sexual Deceit Provokes Ejaculation,” details the method by which male orchid dupe wasps, Lissopimpla excelsa, actually engage in true coitus with Australian tongue orchids. Yes, sex until climax, with flowers. The benefit for orchids is clear: The wasps can’t help but pollinate other flowers after several intimate liaisons, promoting genetic diversity and thus higher adaptability and survivability rates for this species of flower. But the study presented a rather muddled list of motives for the insects’ actions, not understanding why they’d want to “copulate energetically with” and “ejaculate large amounts of sperm” into these orchids — which have evolved to resemble female wasps — and risk promoting their own species’ extinction.
I attribute it to the commonality of unintended adult abstinence in the scientific community that my colleagues could not come to a very self-evident conclusion. Friends, if you didn’t notice, these wasps are getting their nut. But more importantly, they’re laughing at God.
For generations, the male orchid dupe wasp has been painfully rubbing its genitals against orchids that likely resembled an unattractive female wasp with a disfigured ovipore, the wasp equivalent of a vaginal opening. But it shielded its tiny wasp compound eyes and just kept rubbing, because it knew it was giving the best gift anything could ever give its children (wasps didn’t have video games back then). By selecting the most wasp-looking orchid each time to copulate with and pollinate, these brilliant creatures spurred the tongue orchid to evolve structures resembling beautiful false female wasps, complete with “floral scents that mimic species-specific female-insect sex pheromones” and fully functional orifices. The result: Today’s orchid dupe wasps live in a dreamlike world of perpetual orgasm and zero commitment.
Not even humans have figured out how to copulate with plants, but it’s not too late. We think we’re giving future generations a better world by driving hybrid cars and reducing our carbon footprints. No, what our descendants really need are immense gardens with rows and rows of sexually receptive plant-people, emitting faux pheromones to keep our grateful heirs in a state of peak arousal after hours of inter-kingdom intercourse.
I expect you’ll make the right decision. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m on my second glass of sherry, and I believe the pitcher plants in my greenhouse are finally ready for pollination. •
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savemisterrogers.com: No, Mr. Fred Rogers never served as a sniper in Vietnam, and he was certainly not a pederast, sentenced to do a children’s show as community service, Mr. McFeely’s “speedy delivery” package notwithstanding. But PBS still wants to limit the show’s time slot to weekends-only after just four decades of daily broadcasting. Be a good neighbor and log on, or future generations might never experience the edutainment magic of watching an elderly man changing his shoes for half an hour.