Lev Bely, 17.10.2012 17:51
Austrian researchers found out that wings of the Great Orange Tip (Hebomoia glaucippe), an Asian butterfly of the Pieridae family, contain venom. It appears that its white wings beautifully designed with contrast red-orange are not meant only to attract.
The more curious is the fact that the same venom is used by a quite different animal, a sea snail, which “shoots” its victims with a “harpoon” carrying a mixture of paralyzing venoms with that one H. glaucippe's wings contain.
The researches write that H. glaucippe likely uses the toxin as a defense rather than a weapon, and many of the butterfly's predators, including birds, ants and orchid mantis, avoid the wings. Hungry geckos, however, may not be bothered by it, because they eat the entire animal, wings and all.
Scientists examined proteins from the bodies and wings of H. glaucippe butterflies gathered in various parts of Southeast Asia. All test samples turned out to have a considerable share of a toxin glacontryphan-M. Only a marine mollusk Conus marmoreus, which is also called a marble cone snail, is known by now to have this toxin.
Now the researchers are trying to determine if samples of butterflies from other places contain the toxin, and studying other animal species to find the evolutionary connection between such different animals as H. glaucippe butterfly and a sea snail are. These pretty unlike creatures appear to be real war comrades!
The study was published on October 15th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Hebomoia glaucippe
Note: you should have a Insecta.pro account to upload new topics and comments. Please, create an account or log in to add comments.
* Our website is multilingual. Some comments have been translated from other languages.