Nature has many surprises for us. One is the use of different species to attain a greater goal that will help mankind. Along with this greater goal there may be parts of the process that cause mankind certain dangers. This article outlines just a few of these examples of how nature uses them in a symphony that is for the best strategies of survival of different species.

Many pollinators like butterflies and honeybees are drawn to sweet smells and bright colors. But how do plants from the stinky side of nature pollinate? There are many scavenger insects that are not normally considered pollinators but take on that role by being drawn to foul odors. Perfect examples of such insects that can serve as pollinators for stinky plants are carrion beetles, flesh eating beetles like dermestids flesh flies, and house flies. With all this information being said, plants that are not brightly colored or fragrant have a harder time pollinating. Without pollination the “stink plants“ of the world would have a hard time surviving.

Many of these scavenger insects have the distinct honor of being nature’s cleanup crew of dead and rotting flesh and decaying organic material. Just a point of interest is that a carrion beetle can detect rotting flesh up to 2 miles away and a flesh fly can detect decaying flesh for up to 10 miles away. These insects can also present a health hazard to humans by transferring harmful bacteria and pathogens by walking on surfaces that than come in contact with humans or food products that are ingested.

A perfect example of one such plant is the Amorphophallus titanium. This plant is endangered and headed for extinction without protection and pollination of scavenger insects.  Just recently one of these plants, also called “corpse plant,” bloomed on the Colorado State University campus. The corpse plant only blooms once every 4 to 5 years making this event newsworthy. Its live span is 30-40 years. The bulb of a corpse plant can reach the weight of 100 pounds and the plant can grow 15-20 feet high. If you would like to view the time lapse video of the blooming of the corpse plant, the link to see the one on Colorado State University campus is here: CSU Corpse Plant Blooming.

Carrion eating beetles and flies are beneficial to mankind by cleaning up decaying flesh and using waste produced to enrich the soil. They are also useful in the pollination of endangered plants. Don’t forget though, that these carrion insects do carry bacteria and pathogens harmful to humans if ingested.