Bees get plants' pests in a flap (BBC News)


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Bees get plants' pests in a flap

By Richard Black
Environment correspondent, BBC News website

Caterpillars take fright at the flap of a bee's wing, scientists found

Bees can be good for plants in more ways than one, scientists have found.

Researchers in Germany discovered that the flapping of bees' wings scared off caterpillars, reducing leaf damage.

Many wasp species lay their eggs in caterpillars, and so caterpillars have evolved to avoid them. The sounds of bees' and wasps' wings are similar.

Writing in the journal Current Biology, the scientists suggest this is an added bonus of having bees around, as well as the pollination they provide.

"Our findings indicate for the first time that visiting honeybees provide plants with a totally unexpected advantage," they write.

"They not only transport pollen from flower to flower, but in addition also reduce plant destruction by herbivores."


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