Caterpillar’s Bad Breath Scares Off Predators

The key to the hornworm’s (Manduca sexta) bad breath is nicotine, a toxin it ingests while eating its favorite meal of tobacco leaves. New experiments show that the hornworm repurposes the nicotine, moving it from the gut to the hemolymph, the fluid that fills its circulatory system. The hornworm then excretes this excess nicotine when it exhales.

Tobacco Hornworm

Wolf spiders and other predators that eat the hornworm don’t have its defenses against nicotine and find the breath repulsive—and potentially poisonous! Learn more here or here.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: