Trying to move on, I decided to look at the way insects see flowers. Most can’t see light with a wavelength greater than 650 nanometres. Yellow, at 580 nanometres is difficult for most insects to see, which comes as a surprise. Bees see red as black and flies are attracted by blue and colours that are near ultraviolet (UV).
We have three receptors in our eyes but insects have mostly 2 – bichromatic receptors. UV makes patterns on flowers that draw the insect towards the centre.
I decided to put fluorescent paint (which I had because I used it in a lighting exhibition) onto some paintings of flowers, put them on sticks in the garden to see if the insects were attracted.
Unfortunately we had some of the rainiest days of the summer so few insects appeared.
So I created a mini indoor studio and photographed flowers using UV light. I was surprised that the results tallied with the research.
The pink looked blueish and the red became black. However, I did not feel that I was moving forward with my work. This was effectively a dead end.