chemicals

Not Exactly Rocket Science

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Where there are plants, there are almost certainly aphids feeding on them. These ubiquitous insects are banquets for many predators, and some have evolved incredible defences against them. The cabbage aphid, for example, is a walking bomb. Its body carries two reactive chemicals that only mix when a predator attacks it. The injured aphid dies.…

We recognise dead people by the absence of signals that indicate life – movement, responsiveness, pulses, brain activity, and so on. The Argentine ant does the same, but its signal is a chemical one. Throughout its life, an ant uses chemicals in its skin to automatically send out a message to its nest-mates, saying “I’m…