Humans aren’t the only ones susceptible to road rage. A UGA study shows that highway noise can lead to elevated heart rates in monarch butterfly caterpillars living next to roads. Andy Davis, research scientist at the Odum School of Ecology, found that caterpillars exposed to short-term highway noise experienced a 16 to 17 percent increase in heart rate. Caterpillars in long-term trials also exhibited behavioral changes—more aggression, fighting with one another and even biting the researchers in a couple of instances. (“I was shocked,” says Davis.) The research, published in the journal Biology Letters, has implications for monarch butterfly conservation since roadsides increasingly are promoted as sites for pollinator habitat.
This brief appeared in the fall 2018 issue of Research Magazine. The original press release is available at https://news.uga.edu/caterpillar-road-rage-could-affect-migration/.