The humble lima bean, Phaseolus lunatus to botanists, might seem like a harmless side dish, but the plant has evolved a fearsome defense mechanism against caterpillars that love to munch on its leaves.

Atlas Obscura created the video above to show how it works. The general idea is simple: Since the plant itself can’t fend off invaders, it summons those that can by releasing a sweet smell carrying a chemical message. It attracts a certain species of parasitoidal wasp that loves nothing more than to lay its eggs inside caterpillars. Eventually, larvae hatch and basically eat their host from the inside out. It's a gruesome and effective way for the lima bean plant to control caterpillar populations that might otherwise decimate it.

Mother Nature is so clever.

Michael Graham Richard ( @Michael_GR ) Michael writes for MNN and TreeHugger about science, space and technology and more.