Monarch butterflies use medicinal plants to cure themselves and their offspring, claim experts.
The disease is caused by a protozoan parasite called Ophryocystis elektroscirrha. The parasite invades the gut of the caterpillars and then persists when the caterpillars become adult monarchs.
"We have shown that some species of milkweed, the larva's food plants, can reduce parasite infection in the monarchs," Discovery News quoted project leader Jaap de Roode in eScience Commons as saying.
"And we have also found that infected female butterflies prefer to lay their eggs on plants that will make their offspring less sick, suggesting that monarchs have evolved the ability to medicate their offspring."
The experiment has been published in the journal Ecology Letters.