Tomatoes were the cause of insect cannibals

Scientists from the University of Wisconsin in Madison have found that some plants, including tomatoes, secrete substances, causing caterpillars pests to devour each other. Article researchers published in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution. About it reported in a press release on the website

Biologists have conducted experiments on small caterpillars Cutworm (Spodoptera exigua) is common worldwide pest of agricultural crops. Insects eight pieces were placed in plastic containers with tomatoes, sprayed with the different concentrations of methylammonium volatile substance, a plant hormone. This compound plays a role of a signal, by which some plants “warn” others about the attack of pests, thus enabling to start a selection of protective substances.

Researchers over eight days, counted the number of surviving caterpillars, and at the end of the experiment assessed the degree of damage to the plants. It turned out that in containers with a low content of materialmente insects ate all the plants. However, in other vessels, where the concentration of the hormone was high, herbivorous arthropods turned into cannibals. Eating other caterpillars, the larvae were fed and to a lesser extent harm the tomatoes.