It’s a smell that many of us associate with summer; freshly cut grass. It’s wholesome, sweet and invigorating. Or at least that’s what we used to think; studies have shown what your freshly cut grass is really trying to say.
Apparently the smell of summer joy is actually the scent of plants in pain. Airborne chemicals are released when plants are attacked, even if the attack is only a quick trim on a Sunday afternoon. The chemicals are designed to attract nearby insects or creatures that can help them from the attack.
German scientists made the discovery on wild tobacco plants. The chemicals released when hungry caterpillars munched their way through the plants seemed specifically designed to attract predators hungry for caterpillars!
The saliva produced by the caterpillars triggered the chemical reaction, which then attracted “true bugs” Geocoris, who are known to feast predominantly on hornworm eggs and caterpillars. Scientists aren’t sure what causes this change exactly, however the potential ramifications are huge, so more research is going to be done. Imagine being able to induce the change in plants via genetic engineering, which might then protect them from pests. This would cut down on the need for harmful pesticides which can damage more creatures than just the pests they are aimed at. Some scientists view this as plants having a type of language that allows them interact with their environment more intimately than we previous though possible.
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