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posted by martyb on Sunday September 12, @11:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the takes-something-like-this dept.

Milkweed butterflies tear open caterpillars and drink them alive:

Not all caterpillars grow up to be beautiful butterflies. Some become living milkshakes for their dads, who guzzle caterpillar body fluids to attract the ladies.

Recently, scientists reported the first evidence of butterflies sipping from the bodies of caterpillars — dead and alive. They observed adult milkweed butterflies in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, using tiny claws on their feet to scratch wounds in caterpillars' bodies so they could lap the liquid that oozed out.

Male butterflies seek certain compounds produced by milkweed (flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae), which repel predators and help the butterflies produce pheromones that attract females. Since caterpillars are stuffed with juices from chewed-up plants, they make an easy target for butterflies looking to chemically boost their attractiveness to females.

[...] "The caterpillar larvae would contort their bodies rapidly in what appeared to be futile attempts to deter the persistent scratching of adults," said the researchers who observed the butterfly baby-drinking. They described their observations in a study published Sept. 8 in the journal Ecology.

Butterflies in the Danainae family are known as milkweed butterflies because most of the caterpillars in this group feed on milkweed plants, which contain toxic alkaloids that are absorbed by the caterpillars and then processed into useful chemicals that protect them from predators. Another use for these alkaloids is in mating pheromones, which are transferred to females in the males' sperm packet "as a nuptial gift," the scientists wrote.

Journal Reference:
Yi-Kai Tea, Jonathan Soong Wei, Ethan P. Beaver, et al. Kleptopharmacophagy? Milkweed butterflies scratch and imbibe from Apocynaceae‐feeding caterpillars, Ecology (DOI: 10.1002/ecy.3532)


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  • (Score: -1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, @11:59PM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 12, @11:59PM (#1177338)

    It does not work for humans.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @12:18AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @12:18AM (#1177339)

      You know this from experience?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @01:16AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @01:16AM (#1177343)

      Don't worry, nobody is letting incels near their babies.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @01:20AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @01:20AM (#1177344)

      wtf do incels have do with this?

      you sound like somebody with internalized misandry

      • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @01:35AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @01:35AM (#1177346)

        Ma'am I select you to receive a nuptial gift. I demand that you accept for the purpose of propagating a superior race and saving Western civilization. It is imperative you accept.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @03:24AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @03:24AM (#1177357)

      The important question is, will it work for Democrats?

    • (Score: 2) by Beryllium Sphere (r) on Monday September 13, @03:54AM

      by Beryllium Sphere (r) (5062) on Monday September 13, @03:54AM (#1177361)

      I won't ask how you know that :-)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @06:55AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @06:55AM (#1177373)

      Internet White Knights don't try this.

  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday September 13, @05:23AM (3 children)

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday September 13, @05:23AM (#1177366)

    Yeah we humans can be horrible to each other, but then you read about stuff like that bacteria (?) that mind-controls ants to get eaten by slugs to then get mind-controlled until they die, or that wasp that paralyzes the spider and lays its eggs on it until they hatch and eat the still-paralyzed spider alive...

    And even herbivores like deer will eat nests of baby birds if they find them on the ground. WTF.

    Nature is horrifying.

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday September 13, @05:29AM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Monday September 13, @05:29AM (#1177367)

      Oh swell, there's apparently more than one ant-mind-controlling thing.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicrocoelium_dendriticum [wikipedia.org] was the one I was thinking of
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ophiocordyceps_unilateralis [wikipedia.org] apparently causes the ant to lock its jaws onto the underside of a leaf in humid conditions until the fungal growth literally ruptures the ant's head in the process of reproducing via spores

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @04:33AM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, @04:33AM (#1177606)

      > Nature is horrifying

      Says the hooman that eats battery chicken and pork and sprays chemicals on insects because there like suuuuuper annoying.

      • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Tuesday September 14, @02:27PM

        by tangomargarine (667) on Tuesday September 14, @02:27PM (#1177698)

        "battery chicken"?

        --
        "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by crafoo on Monday September 13, @05:45AM (1 child)

    by crafoo (6639) on Monday September 13, @05:45AM (#1177368)

    Another way to say this is that female milkweed butterflies are physically aroused and seek out males covered in murdered baby juices.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @06:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 13, @06:51AM (#1177372)

      Then does this work for humans?

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