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No. 54: Nov-Dec 1987

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The insects' revenge

Plants may fool some insects with their mimicry and deter others with toxic chemicals, but the insects have their tricks, too, as seen in the following item from Science:

"Many mandibulate insects that feed on milkweeds, or other latex-producing plants, cut leaf veins before feeding distal to the cuts. Vein cutting blocks latex flow to intended feeding sites and can be viewed as an insect counteradaptation to the plants' defensive secretion."

(Dussord, David E., and Eisner, Thomas; "Vein-Cutting Behavior: Insect Counterploy to the Latex Defense of Plants," Science, 237:898, 1987.)

Comment. Right now, even as we write this, the plants are evolving counterploys -- high-voltage veins perhaps! But this may not work. See the final item in this section.

From Science Frontiers #54, NOV-DEC 1987. � 1987-2000 William R. Corliss