Thursday, 2 January 2014

Caterpillar Uses Nicotine Breath To Ward Off Predators

While e-cigarettes may have been all the rage in 2013, one cool cat(erpillar) doesn’t even need a mechanical smoking device to puff out clouds of toxic nicotine. The tobacco hornworm caterpillar is able to exhale this predator-repelling breath by re-purposing the nicotine it eats while feeding on a tobacco plant, according to a study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Nicotine actually acts as a defense mechanism for plants by targeting the nerve and muscle cells of animals. When a would-be predator starts eating the plant, nicotine in the consumed plant material begins to negatively affect the animal’s breathing and mobility.


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