We all know that nicotine is addictive to humans, but did you know it acts as a repellent to certain other members of the animal kingdom. And urban house finches have been using this peculiar phenomena to their advantage.
Studies have shown that they line their nests with cigarette butts in order to repel ticks that can invade in an attempt to eat the finches’ feathers and drink their blood. In a nest with live tics, the research showed that weight of cigarette butts, when compared to that in nests with dead tics, had increased by 40%. This study shows animals adapting to the man-made world around them very effectively, using our waste to improve their lives.
But there are downsides to this practice. Chicks born in nests with a higher concentration of nicotine were found to be more susceptible to genetic damage and abnormalities. However, they were also found to have stronger immune systems.