Plants That Defend Themselves?

on February 4, 2010

Some plants have special ways to defend themselves when threatened.

In a New York Times article, writer Natalie Angier describes the complexities of plants. She says that plants “prefer to live just as much as animals do.” The article describes how plants defend themselves from attackers, sometimes even calling for help from insect heroes.

When a caterpillar bites into a plant, genes from the plant's DNA are activated and begin chemical warfare against the insect. Some plants even emit a chemical response that is like a call for help! The chemicals attract large predatory insects, such as the dragonfly. Dragonflies like to eat caterpillars.

Some plants can detect when insect eggs have been deposited on their leaves and act immediately to get rid of them. One plant secretes a poison to kill the eggs. Another plant develops a growth to knock the eggs off. If a Brussels sprout detects insect eggs, it manufactures a chemical to attract female wasps. The wasps inject their own eggs into the caterpillar eggs on the Brussels sprout. Over time, the wasp larvae eats the developing caterpillar as a tasty snack. Plants can even sense when another plant is growing near them and try to grow the other way.

It is amazing that plants are this complex. In the article, readers are encouraged to believe that plants do not want to be eaten.

Creationists know that amazing plants reflect the amazing Creator who designed them. Genesis 1:30 says, “I have given every green plant for food…” Adam was told to tend the garden, using the plants for food. But maybe you should tell your parents that Brussels sprouts don't really like to be eaten, and see if they will let you skip eating them!