goforitgirl's picture


Observed: 20th June 2011 By: goforitgirlgoforitgirl’s reputation in Invertebratesgoforitgirl’s reputation in Invertebrates
 burnet 1

this is the first time we have seen a burnet in our garden - feeding on a marigold flower - what we find curious is the "tongue" of the burnet which appears to have "bobbles" on either side in a pattern - we have photographed burnets feeding before and none previously had these "bobbles" attached to their "tongue".
What are they/are they part of the burnet??

Species interactions

No interactions present.

Species with which Six-spot Burnet (Zygaena filipendulae) interacts


Syrphus's picture

The 'bobbles' are the

The 'bobbles' are the pollinia (pollen bundles) of orchids that the moth has visited. Orchid pollen comes in these masses (not a loose powder like most flowers) with a spot of 'superglue' to attach very firmly to the insects that visit. When the insect goes to another flower, the pollen sticks to the stigma and pollination is accomplished. The orchid (a master of exploitation) does not care that the moth is soon seriously inconvenienced by the 'bottle-brush' that their tongue becomes, to the point when you see them sitting desperately trying to clean this clutter off themselves (they never can). With marsh and spotted orchids, the insect does not even get nectar for its trouble - these plants produce none!



recording wildlife with The Recorder's Year on www.hbrg.org.uk/TRY.html.

RHoman's picture


For an example of the features mentioned by Syrphus see this picture:


Robert Homan