1. Chimpanzees forage for herbs to treat illnesses. But they’re not the only animals finding cures to what ail them!
A new study called Self-Medication in Animals shows that animals traditionally considered intelligent aren’t the only ones to seek out medicinal remedies to their problems. According to the report, animals as simple as a fruit fly are able to be their own pharmacists! They state that their findings shift the concept of self-medication from being a learning-based attribute to be something that’s a result of innate sense of learning.
Medicinal consumption, according to the scientists doing the study, is defined as substances that are not eaten for nutrition, but instead to treat infections or to prevent future offspring from getting infections.
2. Ready for this? House sparrows and finches add high-nicotine cigarette butts to their nests to reduce infestations of mites. WHAT.
Talk about being resourceful!
3. When Woolly Bear Caterpillars are attacked by parasites, they know to seek out plants that have chemicals called alkaloids. They cure the infection!
As fuzzy as he is smart, that caterpillar is. Or, y’know, his instincts are smart.
4. Honeybees? They put antimicrobial resin in their nests!
When a bee is infected with fungi the hive knows to collect plant extracts that ward off that which plagues them. They coat their hive with the stuff!
They’re so good at it that beekeepers are paying attention and instead of avoiding the types of bees that make the antifungal resin, they now know that they’re actually better at defending themselves.
5. Fruit flies lay their eggs purposefully in areas with high levels of alcohol so parasitic wasps won’t lay their eggs in the fly larvae.
Okay, sure, they’re still pretty dumb, but at least they’ve got some common sense going on!
6. Ants bring antifungal chemicals back to the colony so their homes stay safe!
You won’t see them scrubbing mold from their bathrooms!
7. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on milkweed plants because they’re toxic and keep away parasites.
And, turns out, that toxic stuff is kinda pretty, too.
8. So what can people learn from all of this self-medicating? First of all, they can pay attention to the chemicals these animals are using and try to use them as well.
Humans have discovered that a plant primates eat as medicine is great for treating nausea in African livestock. Who knew?
9. Another important lesson we can learn from animals: moderation is key.
Jaap de Roode, a scientist at Emory University, states, “We think there is a cost-benefit analysis going on here — if you don’t need it, don’t use it… If it’s very likely you’ll be infected, you may use it regardless. If your risk is much lower, it’s easier to see how you’d use it only when infected.”
A wise lesson, indeed!