Plants Can Hear Themselves Being Eaten, & Can Communicate The Threat To Their Neighbors

The interconnectedness between soil, microbes, plants, pests, and ultimately human health, is a fascinating area of study.

With the rapid evolution of technology, much of what used to be common-sense farming and gardening knowledge was lost. However, science is starting to reaffirm age-old wisdoms, showing that nature is far smarter than we may have given it credit for.

For example, we now know that plants are capable of communicating with each other via extensive and complex networks, and can warn each other of the presence of pests. In response, the plants will mount natural defenses against the infestation.

This is an important part of chemical-free agriculture. We don’t need to combat pests with chemical warfare… We just have to create the optimal growing conditions so the plant can respond with its own defenses.

We’re also starting to realize how microorganisms in soil and the human gut are interconnected, and work to create health in very similar ways.

Researchers have also discovered that plants can actually “hear” when they’re being chewed on, and in response, they can launch a chemical defense to minimize the destruction. In truth, whether we’re eating meat, fish, fowl, or plants, we’re taking sustenance from something that is (or was) very much alive…


As reported by IFL Science,1 when a bug such as a caterpillar chews on a plant’s leaf, the plant actually “hears” the vibrations of the chewing, and produces a phytochemical to defend itself from further harm.

I never realized that this happened but after reading the study, I went out to my edible landscape and found many of the plants had been nibbled on, but just in one small section of leaves. The rest of the leaves were fine. This seemed to confirm the observation of the study.

The study was published in the journal Oecologia2 and involved recording plant responses to vibrational sounds by placing reflective tape on a leaf. Using a laser beam, they were able to measure the leaf’s response when a caterpillar chewed on it.

They also played a recording of the near-inaudible vibrational sound of a caterpillar chewing, and interestingly enough, plants that had been previously exposed to these feeding sounds released higher amounts of chemicals that deters bugs.

Even more interesting, these phytochemicals are also what give a plant many of its medicinal qualities, such as glucosinolates, which have anti-cancer properties, and other antioxidants. When a plant has increased levels of these chemicals, insects will not feed on it.

In a nutshell, the vibrational sound of a bug chewing on a plant’s leaf causes a change in the cellular metabolism of the plant, creating chemicals that repel the attacker.

Many view pests as an unavoidable nuisance very similar to disease. But actually they serve a valuable role and destroy sick or damaged plants. This is why healthy plants typically don’t have a problem with pests.

Interestingly, this research even suggests that minor pest attacks may play an important role in encouraging plant growth that have higher levels of (to humans) important nutrients! In a press release,3 one of the researchers stated:

“This research also opens the window of plant behavior a little wider, showing that plants have many of the same responses to outside influences that animals do, even though the responses look different.”

Source: The Open Mind

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I think fruit and vegetables, so to say, mostly everything with a seed, is made such, that the plant doesn't suffer, when eaten. Because it's in the plant's interest that these seeds are spread widely. So most fruit and vegetable also are quite colored, so to be seen from far away, and attractive to the animals eyes.


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