Teacher’s Questions for A plant enemy’s enemy


Before reading:

  1. What is the difference between defense and offense?
  2. Plants produce many different odors. Why do you think that is?

During reading:

  1. Explain the expression, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
  2. What is a volatile?
  3. How do bodyguard insects benefit plants?
  4. What sense do insects rely on to detect the chemical messages produced by plants?
  5. Is the ability to produce chemical signals common among plants?
  6. What are stem borers?
  7. How would a plant benefit by signaling bodyguard insects before the eggs of a pest even hatched?
  8. Diagram how the Push-Pull system of agriculture works.
  9. Can all corn varieties signal nematodes?

After reading:

  1. What would be the advantage of a plant’s producing lots of volatiles when infested with insect pests?
  2. Why would plant breeders be so interested in a plant’s natural ability to repel or defeat pests?


  1. Plant breeders select different traits when developing new varieties of corn and other crops. Imagine you developed two new corn varieties. One variety naturally repels insects, but requires lots of chemical fertilizers to grow. The other variety naturally produces lots of juicy kernels, but requires lots of chemical pesticides to grow. Which variety would you choose to grow? Explain your answer.