I warned you

Aaaand we’re off – to see if some of my caterpillars are chemically protected.

This is my arm right now:

I’m about to go rub some caterpillars on another lab member.
(It’s ok, we’ve filled out the human testing protocol paperwork.)

So far I’m intrigued that these three species have all given me the same type of reaction in terms of timing, appearance, and sensation (it burns, and then itches). Other people in the lab have reacted to them as well, but I want to document this in a systematic fashion. It could be an important phylogenetic character. So far we’re pretty sure two of them are in the same clade, and the other we are going to add to our molecular dataset soon.

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Posted on September 24, 2012, in Acronicta, Acronictinae, Invertebrates, Lepidoptera, Noctuidae. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I’m pretty sure you win the “Hardcore Insect Systematist of the Year Award” for this project!

    I’m also morbidly fascinated to find out if there’s actually any phylogenetic signal behind this… Good luck!

  2. Very cool! I wonder if individual host plant chemistry plays any role in expression of this defense.

  3. I wonder if the same nerve is stimulated for each reaction…thus each feels the same?

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