Scientists have discovered the ability of bumblebees Bombus terrestris feel the electric field of flowers. This feeling helps insects find nectar. Summary of the paper published in the journal Science, lead NatureNews.
In earlier studies, scientists were able to establish that in-flight rapid movements of the wings of bumblebees lead to the formation of a small positive electric charge. Sitting down at a flower, insects transmit to him some of his static. However, if they are able to feel it, until now it was not known.
Decided to investigate this question, the authors conducted the following experiment. First, they established through the hollow conductor that is really flying bumblebees have a positive charge. Then they measured the charge that bumblebees pass petunia flowers, sitting on them. Finally, the researchers provided the bumblebees artificial flowers: half of them were charged positively and contained sugar solution, while the other half was already grounded colors with a bitter liquid.
Bumblebees quickly learned to pick out all the colors only charged. To exclude the possibility of choice of insects, for some other parameters (by smell, for example), in the last experiment, scientists have deprived all the colors of the charge. After that, the insects immediately lost the ability to make distinctions between the bitter sweet feeders.
Scientists note that it was the first to discover the ability of insects to sense the electric field. This ability may have other pollinators. It is known that the ability to sense the electric field is endowed with sharks and other fish species.