The dark cost of being toxic

Scientists have discovered that the striking orange and black wings of monarch butterflies not only send the message to predators that these butterflies are highly toxic, but that the storage of toxins and development of the colorful wings come at a cost to the butterfly’s body. The team reared monarch caterpillars on their milkweed food plants that had different levels of toxins. Monarchs that had ingested high levels of toxins from their food plants as caterpillars, experienced high levels of oxidative damage after storing these toxins in their bodies, and were less conspicuous in their coloration.

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