The other butterfly effect: A youth reporter finds out how monarchs fight their own parasites

Now that’s cool!

TED Blog

Biologist Jaap de Roode studies the Monarch butterfly's ability to use medicinal plants. Photo: Courtesy of Jaap de Roode Biologist Jaap de Roode studies the Monarch butterfly’s ability to use medicinal plants.

Jaap de Roode is a biologist who studies parasites and their hosts — particularly Monarch butterflies. At TEDYouth 2014, he spoke about Monarch butterflies, their self-medicating ingenuity — and what that ingenuity can help humans discover.

Lubna Batool, an 11th-grade New Yorker, was fascinated. On site at TEDYouth, with a dozen monarch butterflies flapping about in a see-through mesh cylinder, Batool got to ask de Roode a few questions. One fun fact she learned: Monarch butterflies can live in a food cooler for months, as long as they’re fed every 10 days and have an ice pack changed daily. Below, an edited transcript of their conversation.

[As Batool picks up a butterfly] How do I hold it?

Monarchs are one of the strongest butterflies we have — they fly from Canada down to Mexico, which is…

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