Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Fruit Flies Medicate Offspring with Alcohol

Joseph Castro, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 21 February 2013 Time: 02:00 PM ET

It's not likely anyone would nominate a fruit fly for a "Best Mother of the Year" award — after laying her eggs, the insect hits the road, never to be heard from again. But it now turns out that fruit fly mothers aren't completely uncaring and actually try to give their offspring a fighting chance at life.

If she spots a deadly parasitic wasp around, the female fruit fly will "medicate" her offspring by laying her eggs in an environment with high levels of alcohol, which is very toxic to the wasps but not to the flies, new research shows.

Throughout the world, parasitic wasps are a bane to fruit flies. Female wasps lay their eggs inside  fly larvae, which then hatch and eat the maggots from the inside out. Fly larvae have a natural immune response to try to kill the wasp, but the venom the wasp injects along with her egg sometimes counters this defense. 

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