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In the ongoing battle against herbivores, some plants have evolved unusually clever defenses 🌿 Here are a few I find particularly interesting. (1/6)
Some plants pretend to be infested by aphids to keep actual aphids away. On the left is a branch of Paspalum paspaloides, with a number of dark anthers on it that look like aphids. Compare that to an actual aphid infestation on the right. A pretty compelling copy, no? (2/6)
In addition to growing spines and thorns to keep predators away, some plants enhance the effect with “automimicry” — copying the patterns of their spines on their leaves to look more ferocious. Below are a couple Agave plants showing off this trait. (3/6)
To prevent butterflies from laying eggs — that turn into hungry caterpillars 🐛 — some plant species, like Passiflora, mimic the butterfly eggs themselves as if to say “Occupied!”. Experimental work suggests this is actually pretty effective at warding off butterflies. (4/6)
Another strategy is to look as unappetizing as possible. That’s the route Pulmonaria offcinalis takes, with leaf patterns look like bird droppings. (5/6)
Cashing in on a near-universal dislike of spiders 🕷 some plants have also evolved to mimic spider webs to ward off predators. Here’s a picture of Carthamus and the convincing faux spider web it grows. (6/6)
Most info & photos from Lev-Yadun, S. (2016). Defensive (anti-herbivory) Coloration in Land Plants. Cham: Springer International Publishing.
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