Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Grubs Up!


A US study seems to have established that there is a direct link between a chemical produced to plants in response to grazing insects and cannibalism in caterpillars (https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/10/when-very-hungry-caterpillars-turn-into-very-hungry-cannibals). The study was carried out using tomato plants and armyworm caterpillars. Plants sprayed with the chemical (methyl jasmonate) retained more of their leaves and a higher incidence of cannibalism. Methyl jasmonate apparently makes the plant less palatable but whether the chemical or hunger makes the caterpillars eat each other is debatable. Either way, the plant would benefit by reducing the feeding insects.

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