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Last Updated: Tuesday October 12 2010 07:10 GMT

Stripy flower petals help bumblebees land like planes

Bumblebee collecting nectar from a snapdragon with striped petals

We can help bumblebee numbers by planting stripy flowers, say scientists who've found that stripes act a bit like 'landing lights' for bees.

They reckon that stripes on petals help direct bumblebees to them, a bit like how lights on runways help guide planes in to land.

In their study, bumblebees visited snapdragon flowers with striped petals more often than white or pink petals.

The insects also showed that they prefer red flowers.

Professor Cathie Martin from the John Innes Centre in Norwich said: "Stripes provide a visual guide for pollinators, directing them to the central landing platform and the entrance to the flower where the nectar and pollen can be found."