Stick Insects Travel Long Distances - By Being Eaten By Birds
Many plants use birds to disperse their seeds. Birds eat the fruits, move away from the plant, and then poop, depositing the plant’s seeds in a new location. When insects are eaten it is assumed that they and their unborn young don’t survive, but a team of researchers wondered whether a similar mechanism helps insects transport their offspring long distances. Stick insects make eggs that have a very hard shell, which can survive acidic environments, such as those in bird guts.
The team fed eggs from three species of stick insect to brown-eared bulbuls (Hypsipetes amaurotis, pictured), a medium-size bird that is common in eastern Asia and one of the main avian predators of stick insects in Japan. A few hours later the birds passed the eggs, and the researchers found that for each species, between 5% and 20% of the eggs had survived unharmed.