NPR logo Wilbur The Brussels Sprout

Wilbur The Brussels Sprout

Delicious, nutritious brussels sprouts. sea turtle/Flickr hide caption

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sea turtle/Flickr

Delicious, nutritious brussels sprouts.

sea turtle/Flickr

It was bad enough when I made the bacon-Wilbur connection, but now, The New York Times has managed to give my salad consciousness.

Just because we humans can't hear them doesn't mean plants don't howl. Some of the compounds that plants generate in response to insect mastication — their feedback, you might say — are volatile chemicals that serve as cries for help. Such airborne alarm calls have been shown to attract both large predatory insects like dragon flies, which delight in caterpillar meat, and tiny parasitic insects, which can infect a caterpillar and destroy it from within.

Thanks. Now my arugula has a voice, as well as a peppery bite. However, it's worth reading all the way through, if only to learn that plants can eavesdrop!