Hungry and angry caterpillars headbutt to get their way

Do you ever get angry when you are hungry? Well, monarch caterpillars do too!

Older monarch caterpillars can strip a milkweed plant of its leaves in less than 2 weeks! Like teenaged humans, they need a lot of food to grow.

When caterpillars are hungry they head butt, lunge and knock other caterpillars out of their way to get to food. They use techniques that look like a combination of boxing and bumper cars to push other caterpillars out of their way.  The less food that is available to the caterpillars, the more likely they are to use force to try and get their way. It is like when their is only one piece of pizza left and you and your sister both want it!

Fact: Planting milkweed plants in your garden can help attract monarch butterflies. the butterflies will lay eggs that will  turn into caterpillars. Be careful though, most milkweed sold at garden centers has been sprayed with pesticides which will kill or stunt the caterpillars. Make sure to find organic milkweed plants!

Read the study and see pictures and a cool video of caterpillars fighting here: DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101791

Reference:

Collie J, Granela O, Brown EB, Keene AC. Aggression is induced by resource limitation in the monarch caterpillar. iScience, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101791

Dairy cow looks at viewer.

Feed cows seaweed to neutralize bovine farts and burps!

Giving cows a small dose of seaweed extract in their feed, about 0.2% of their total feed intake, could reduce the amount of methane in their farts by about 98%! Cattle and other ruminates create methane from grass and other plants they eat. The plant fermentation in their first stomach. Carbon and hydrogen combine to make methane, a powerful greenhouse gas.

The seaweed used as a methane inhibitorAsparagopsis taxiformis and Asparagopsis armata, are two types of crimson submarine grass that are found in oceans around the world. The seaweed contains bromoform, an organic compound that prevents methane formation by blocking carbon and hydrogen atoms from combining in the stomach. Instead of methane, the cow makes more propionate, a short-chain fatty acid shown to have health benefits for both cows and humans who drink their milk. 

Inhibiting methane is important for two reasons. First, methane is pretty stinky as anyone who has spent time near a burping bovine knows. Second, excess methane is responsible for global warming. Methane is a greenhouse gas, which means it contributes to global warming.

There are currently 1.5 billion cattle in the world so, as you can imagine, the gases from all that cow flatulence and burping can really add up. Currently, cow and other livestock farts and burps account for about 15% of total greenhouse emissions and 40% of methane emissions.

Reference: 

Kinley RD., de Nys R, Vucko M J., Machado L, Tomkins NW. The red macroalgae Asparagopsis taxiformis is a potent natural antimethanogenic that reduces methane production during in vitro fermentation with rumen fluid. Animal Production Science. 2016. 56, 282-289.