When a hungry caterpillar comes crawling onto the scene for a snack, plants are ready. Researchers have found that the plant Arabidopsis thaliana can hear and feel the vibrations the insects make when they’re chewing, according to a report published online today in Oecologia. After recording the sound of caterpillars munching and playing them back at the plant, the plant upped its guard by releasing mustard oil, a chemical the insects don’t like. The finding may be used to enhance the defenses of agricultural plants that the larvae normally feed on.
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