Living on Earth - Radio Show

Air Date: Week of May 15, 2009

"According to scientists from the University of Wurzburg, honeybees act as plant bodyguards by scaring away caterpillars that would otherwise munch on the plants' leaves.

Honeybees aren't actually dangerous to caterpillars, but wasps are. And the caterpillars – using fine hairs on their bodies to detect flying insects - can't tell the difference - so they keep away from areas with large honeybee populations. In fact, in lab experiments, the scientists found that when honeybees are around, caterpillars do 60 to 70 percent less damage to plant leaves.

The researchers hope their discovery will soon be applied to sustainable farming practices. If crops and flowers are grown side by side in the same field, then honeybees attracted to the flowers will become crop protectors – allowing farmers to use fewer chemical pesticides."

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