A recent study has revealed that insects are using plants to communicate with each other and leave “voicemail” messages to other insects. According to the study carried out by Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) and Wageningen University, insects eating plant roots change the chemical composition of the plants leaves, causing them to release chemical signals into the air.
These signals can alert other above ground insects as to whether or not the plant contains toxins or has been previously attacked by caterpillars.
Herbivorous insects store their voicemails via their effects on soil fungi.
Among the messages left are warnings not to eat a poisonous plant or whether a plant has suffered from leaf-eating caterpillars.
This unique messaging service was discovered in the ragwort plant by researchers from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology (NIOO) and Wageningen University.
A few years ago, NIOO scientists discovered that soil-dwelling and above-ground insects are able to communicate with each other using the plant as a telephone.
Insects eating plant roots change the chemical composition of the leaves, causing the plant to release volatile signals into the air.
This can convince above-ground insects to select another food plant in order to avoid competition and to escape from poisonous defence compounds in the plant.
The new research shows that insects leave a specific legacy that remains in the soil after they have fed on a plant.
Future plants growing on that same spot can pick up these signals from the soil and pass them on to other insects.
The messages are specific – the new plant can tell whether the former one was suffering from leaf-eating caterpillars or from root-eating insects.
Source: Daily Mail
Research and discoveries just like this one, reiterate the fact that we know little about the wonders of nature. We as a species think that we are “The Bees Knees” and give little credit to the intelligence of other species.
We judge other animals and insects by the size of their brains and give little interest towards the idea that other creatures may be a lot smarter than we give credit?
Who would have ever thought that insects are communicating complex messages through chemicals? And we think we are smart because we use twitter and facebook.
As we continue to plunder the environment we may lose a lot more than just clean air, fresh water and nice places… We may lose technology that is superior to our own.
Insects Use Plants To Leave Voicemail Messages planetearthherald.com/insects-use-pl…
— Planet Earth Herald (@PlanetHerald) June 14, 2012