poetry and prose about place

the color of niche

with 4 comments

What are the color characteristics of niche?  Are humans the only species to prefer certain colors for their spaces?

Other species also have color preferences.  The best example I know is the preference of insects for color in their interactions with plants.  Some insect pollinators, for example, prefer certain colors over others.  Bumble bees have been shown to prefer the color purple.  Also, flowers appearing monochromatic to us may be perceived quite differently by insects since they also see in the ultraviolet range of the spectrum.  Some flowers, such as the yellow Evening-Primrose (Oenothera biennis L.), have ‘runway markers’ on their petals, to help insect pollinators to find their way to the nectar-producing parts of the plant. 

Evening- Primrose  (Oenothera biennis L.)            Under uptra-violet light, the central area of the inner petals shows dark ‘runway markers’… if you look closely, you can see some vein-like variation in the yellow of the inner petals

Knowing about color-preference in insects can help us to spend more time in the out-of-doors.  Science has shown us that mosquitoes prefer black or other dark colors over lighter colors.  Greens, yellows and white are the colors to wear to reduce your attractiveness to mosquitoes.

An early paper on color preference of insects is A.S. Packard, 1903, ‘Color Preference in Insects’, Journal of the New York Entomological Society 11: 132-137.  This paper is over one hundred years old but has charming anecdotes of the color preferences of houseflies, butterflies, moths and other insects.  It is available on-line at: 

In the article, Packard reports mosquitoes are attracted to navy-blue, dark red and reddish brown.

My favorite color is definitely green, followed closely by orange.  I also find I associate these colors strongly with the seasons:  autumn with orange, summer with green.  Although I would not select red as a favorite color, I notice my house, not at all color-coordinated, has definite red accents in almost every room.

What is the preferred color of your niche?

Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi L.) from a friend's garden... also called Bladder cherry or Japanese lantern


orange peel


orchard bees

wings of monarch or viceroy

citrus oil, flames spurted  in dark

weightlessness of Chinese lanterns, evolution of green


jack-o-lantern grin on the compost heap

taste and root-thread trace of carrot

pumpkins on the vine


furniture polish stain

on an empty page


nothing rhymes

with orange


© Jane Tims 2011

Written by jane tims

September 18, 2011 at 5:44 pm

4 Responses

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  1. nothing rhymes

    with orange

    Never saw that in a poem before. Great closing …lol

    Vivid poem. Liked it very much.




    September 21, 2011 at 9:04 am

    • Hi. Orange is such a great color. The pumpkins in the field were so brilliant but I still don’t have the knack of capturing objects in focus!!!! Jane


      jane tims

      September 21, 2011 at 5:04 pm

  2. I didn’t know that about mosquitoes! I had a purple flower in my balcony garden this summer and enjoyed watching the bumble bees buzzing in and out of them. Now I know why they favored the purple blossoms

    The preferred color of my niche is blue, in all the cooler shades. And white on white, with a little bit of brown and green to keep things grounded. Definitely into Scandinavian style.


    Barbara Rodgers

    September 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    • Hi. Plant lots of those purple flowers because bumble bees need every bit of help they can get. Jane


      jane tims

      September 19, 2011 at 10:39 pm

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