Posted by: Sandy Steinman | May 26, 2020

These Butterflies Evolved to Eat Poison. How Could That Have Happened?

The New York Times  reports on how Monarch Butterflies evolved to make themselves poisonous to predators

Scientists have unraveled the sequence of gene mutations that enabled the monarch butterfly to thrive on toxic milkweed.Insects began dining on plants over 400 million years ago, spurring evolution of many botanical defenses like the poison found in milkweed. In turn, the monarch butterfly developed its own defenses.

The caterpillar of the monarch butterfly eats only milkweed, a poisonous plant that should kill it. The caterpillars thrive on the plant, even storing its toxins in their bodies as a defense against hungry birds.

Read more at These Butterflies Evolved to Eat Poison. How Could That Have Happened? – The New York Times


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