Fukushima contamination affects butterfly larvae

pale grass blue butterflies

Eating leaves contaminated by radioactive material from the Fukushima nuclear disaster affects the health of the larvae and pupae of pale grass blue butterflies, a new study shows.

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Butterfly larvae fed leaves contaminated with radioactive cesium from the Fukushima nuclear disaster had a higher rate of death and development abnormalities than larvae that got leaves from a location farther from the accident. The result, published May 15 in Scientific Reports, suggests there are health risks associated with ingesting a diet polluted with radioactive cesium, at least for this species of butterfly. The same risks may also apply to other animals living close to where the accident occurred, the scientists say.


Ashley Yeager is the associate news editor at Science News. She has worked at The Scientist, the Simons Foundation, Duke University and the W.M. Keck Observatory, and was the web producer for Science News from 2013 to 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master’s degree in science writing from MIT.

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