The other neat thing I learned from an article by Ker Than, in the March 13, 2009 National Geographic News, is it “the first clear demonstration of self-medication among insects”. Elizabeth Bernays of the University of Arizona and other members of her team have discovered that “in the spring, parasitic flies lay their eggs inside woolly bears. When the fly larvae hatch, they feed on the innards of their hosts before exploding out of their abdomens. But when infected caterpillars eat leaves from Senecio genus such as ragwort, the animals get bellies full of drugs called alkaloids.” They don’t know if the alkaloids kill the eggs directly or just boost the woolly bears’ immune system. I thought that was an amazing little unknown fact.
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