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.

'Defenseless' lima beans call for backup
When caterpillars start to nibble on Phaseolus lunatus, the plant summons its friends, parasoitoidal wasps.