It will also happen to you to have done the classic test of the breath, blowing on the open palm of the hand before an appointment: bad breath is certainly not a good visiting card.
But this is not the case for everyone: the larvae of the tobacco sphinx ( Manduca sexta ), a butterfly that lives in the Americas and which, as the name suggests, feed on tobacco leaves, have greater chances of survival thanks to their bad breath .
The invasion of mini-monsters GO TO GALLERY (N photos)
The small green caterpillars are able to digest the nicotine contained in the tobacco leaves of which they are greedy, but not without consequences. Researchers at the University of Illinois have in fact discovered that the ingested nicotine makes the "breath" of the caterpillars decidedly heavy, so much so as to put one of their natural nocturnal predators, the parallel camptocosa, a small spider of the family of the Lycosidae, in flight in Mexico as araña lobo .
Macrocosm. Face to face with insects. GO TO GALLERY (N photos)
With or without nicotine
The study was carried out by feeding some larvae with normal tobacco leaves and others with genetically modified tobacco leaves to be free of nicotine. The percentage of caterpillars fed with natural leaves, after a night spent at the mercy of predators, was found to be much higher than those fed on tobacco without nicotine.
The researchers also found that spiders literally escape from the toxic breath of the caterpillars. However, halitosis due to nicotine does not save them from other predators. like formicular larvae and ligeids . However, if you are not a caterpillar and do not run the risk of being eaten by a spider, having fresh breath does not hurt.
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