Monarch Butterflies Use Medicinal Plants

Posted on October 14, 2010  Comments (6)

Monarch butterflies eat toxic plants (that they have evolved to tolerate and make the butterflies themselves toxic to predators). They use medicinal plants to treat their offspring for disease, research by Emory biologists shows. When the butterflies are infected by certain parasites the butterflies have a strong preference to lay their eggs on a plant (tropical milkweed) that will help the caterpillar fight the parasite when it eats those leaves (it serves as a drug for them). Their experiments may be the best evidence to date that animals use medication.

Related: Monarch Migration ResearchMonarch Butterfly MigrationEvolution at Work with the Blue Moon Butterfly

6 Responses to “Monarch Butterflies Use Medicinal Plants”

  1. Anonymous
    October 17th, 2010 @ 9:11 am

    What a Great Nature. I never Knew that Monarch butterflies eat toxic plants. It was very intersting. Thanks for Sharing!

  2. Anonymous
    October 20th, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    Wow, I guess I have never really thought about insects being “evolved” enough to use medicines like we would. Just goes to show how little we actually know about nature sometimes. Thanks for the article it was very interesting.

  3. Justin Germino
    October 23rd, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

    The fact that animals and insects may use certain plants purposely to treat ailments leads to the theory that nature designs remedies in certain plants on purpose. I look forward to seeing what more they can find out about medicinal plants.

  4. tekkaus
    October 24th, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    I never know that a butterfly would eat a toxic plant to make itself toxic…

    And now it is even treating its offspring by giving them “medicine”? Mind-blowing!

  5. Anonymous
    October 30th, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

    It’s amazing how animals in nature develop to make a toxic plant into something that protects them from other insects.

  6. Stephan
    November 3rd, 2010 @ 3:10 pm

    It seams that animals, in general, are much more complex than we give them credit for..

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