Physically damaged or chewed plants produce a volatile chemical that may serve as a primer to prepare nearby plants to defend themselves against insect attack, according to a team of researchers.
"We know that when caterpillars chew on plants, eventually the plants produce chemicals attracting wasps that are the natural enemy of the caterpillar," says Dr. James H. Tumlinson, the Ralph O. Mumma endowed professor of entomology at Penn State. "Natural predators can be an effective method of biological control of pests in agriculture."
However, these predator attracting chemicals do not appear immediately. The first chemicals released are green leafy volatiles (GLV), the odor of new mown grass or crushed leaves. These are highly volatile and appear immediately so they are good candidates as signals to other plants.
A’ndrea Elyse Messer | Penn State
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