Scientists Accidentally Discover Darwin Finches’ DIY Insect Repellent

By on September 3, 2015

Medium tree finch. (Credit: Jody O'Connor)


During a separate field study, University of Austria scientists made a surprising discovery, according to a recent New Scientist article.

The research team discovered that Darwin finches living on the Galapagos Islands have found a natural way to protect themselves from life-threatening mosquitoes and parasitic flies that prey on their young. The scientists observed the finches rubbing their feathers with leaves from a guava tree. The researchers found that the guava leaves repelled mosquitoes, parasitic flies and stunted their larvae.

Birds and other animals reportedly use plants to keep insect pests away, but this is the first time they have been observed doing so. It is uncertain whether or not the finches’ behavior is a recent development or if they have been using this technique for a longer period of time.

Top image: Medium tree finch. (Credit: Jody O’Connor)

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