Thursday, 7 April 2011

How to turn a bluebell pink

Posted by Rosie

My now pinkbell
Use Ants. 

If you dangle a bluebell over the entrance to a Wood Ant nest, the ants will see it as a threat to the colony and attack it, biting into the flower and injecting formic acid into the petals.  The effect of this is to turn the bluebell from blue to pink (something along the lines of acid turning blue litmus paper pink I think - but don't take my word for it, I failed chemistry).  This is what I did with the bluebell in the picture and the effect took only a few minutes.  Take care, though, if you do this because if the ants decide to bite you it really hurts.  Also, please only pick one bluebell and only then if they are very abundant.  Mind you, I assume this would work with any blue flower; perhaps some-one could report back.


  1. I don't know about the flowers, but I can report that ant bites really hurt! We have plenty of ants so I'll try it on the first blue flower that appears.

  2. Dianne, I'd be interested to know if the ants can turn any blue flower pink. Interestingly, the flower got steadily more pink as last night progressed but this morning it was almost all back to blue except where one really determined ant had hung on for ages. Presumably the flower had neutralised the acid.


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