Can butterflies remember what they learnt as caterpillars?

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Washington, Mar 9 (UNI) Butterflies and moths do remember what they learnt as catterpillars, claim scientists.

Butterflies and moths are well known for their striking metamorphosis from crawling caterpillars to beautiful winged adults.

In the light of this radical change, not just in body form, but also in lifestyle, diet and dependence on particular sensory cues, it would seem unlikely that learned associations or memories formed at the larval or caterpillar stage could be accessible to the adult moth or butterfly.

''The intriguing idea that a caterpillar's experiences can persist in the adult butterfly or moth captures the imagination, as it challenges a broadly-held view of metamorphosis -- that the larva essentially turns to soup and its components are entirely rebuilt as a butterfly,'' associate professor of Biology at Georgetown University Martha Weiss said.

''Scientists have been interested in whether memory can survive metamorphosis for over a hundred years,'' first author Doug Blackiston said, Science Daily reported.

The brain and nervous system of caterpillars is dramatically reorganised during the pupal stage and it has not been clear whether memory could survive such drastic changes.


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