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Monarch butterfly at withered boneset leaf

Monarch butterfly at withered boneset leaf

After capturing this image of a monarch on a dried boneset leaf in her garden, Maryland gardener and nature writer Nancy Lawson sent several photos and videos to ecologist Michael Boppré, Ph.D., in Germany. He had seen similar behavior, known as PA-pharmacophagy, in other milkweed butterflies, which scratch with their legs at wounded leaves of certain plants that contain toxic chemicals (pyrrolizidine alkaloids, or PAs) and suck up cell liquids, or they spit saliva on dry plant matter and then suck up the PA-laden liquid with their proboscises. The sighting led to a scientific paper and the new citizen-science effort Monarch Rx, encouraging others to report similar observations.  (Photo by Nancy Lawson)

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