Caterpillars turn to cannibalism, study shows | World

Caterpillars turn to cannibalism, study shows | World | bismarcktribune.com






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A new study showed that caterpillars will eat each other when placed on tomato plants with toxic chemicals. But why would the caterpillar eat his friends?

In a study published in Nature Ecology and Evolution, scientists sprayed the yummy plants with a plant defense chemical called methyl jasmonate and unleashed the caterpillars. Caterpillars on a treated plant chose to eat their counterparts over the plant.

“The plant rearranges the menu for the caterpillar and makes other caterpillars the optimal choice,” said John Orrock, an evolutionary ecologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who led the study.

According to a New York Times report, “the findings support a growing body of research suggesting that plant defenses are far more sophisticated than we’ve thought.”

Plants are much smarter than we thought, and caterpillars are very hungry.

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