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Digestive system protects against toxins: monarchs

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Monarch butterfly / Derek Ramsey / LicenseGFDL - Gnu Free Document License

The digestive system of Monarch butterflies protects them from poisonous milkweed latex eaten to make themselves poisonous to predators.

BIOMIMICRY TAXONOMY
Summary
"Milkweed gets its name from a poisonous latex that exudes from its broken stem. This is so toxic that it can give a small animal a heart attack. The monarch butterfly, however, has developed an immunity to it. Its caterpillars nibble away at the leaves with impunity. But they do not digest the poison. Instead, they appropriate it and use it for their own purposes. In some way they are able to separate the toxin in the latex and store it unaltered in their bodies. This not only prevents them from succumbing to it, but makes them poisonous to any predator that might swallow them." (Attenborough 1995:70-71)
About the inspiring organism
Nymphalidae
Nymphalidae

Learn more at EOL.org
Organism/taxonomy data provided by:
Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2008 Annual Checklist


Bioinspired products and application ideas

Application Ideas: Improved storage techniques for antidotes to toxins.

Industrial Sector(s) interested in this strategy: Medical

References
Attenborough, D. 1995. The Private Life of Plants: A Natural History of Plant Behavior. London: BBC Books. 320 p.
Learn More at Google Scholar Google Scholar  

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