Everyone knows that bees and wasps, and even some ants, can sting; but how much do you know about stinging caterpillars?
Ants are the recipients of a lot of pranks in the insect world. The particular hoax I have in mind, though, involves caterpillar larvae that fool ants into feeding and caring for them.
There is a war going on between a certain tropical butterfly, Heliconius sara, and its only food source, the passion vine. This war involves chemical warfare. More precisely, the plant arms itself with cyanide bombs that are rather useful in getting rid of most insect pests.
The root of the addiction lies not just in this chemical, but in the chemical receptors located in the whiskers just outside of the caterpillar’s mouth.
In the real world, some caterpillars and plants engage in a deadly struggle for survival. We’re talking full-scale battle, involving chemical weapons no less.