Apr 24, 2008

Insects Use Phones, Too

Dutch ecologist Roxina Soler and her colleagues from the Netherlands Institute for Ecology chanced upon the discovery that both subterranean and aboveground herbivorous insects actually use plants like telephones to communicate with one another. These subterranean insects will leave chemical warning signals through the plant's leaves, letting aboveground insects know that the plant is already 'occupied'. Such a messaging system allows spatially-separated insects to avoid each other so that no unintentional occupation happens on the same plant. This mode of communication has been studied only in a few systems, so it remains to be seen how widespread this phenomenon is. And they don't even have to fork out a single penny for their monthly subscription fees!

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