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Genetic mutations have been found in three generations of butterflies near Japan's tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear plant.
The abnormalities have raised fears that radiation may have spread to other species, including humans.
Around 12% of the pale grass blue species exposed to nuclear fallout as larvae immediately after the disaster had abnormalities.
These included smaller wings and damaged eyes, researchers said.
The insects were mated in a laboratory well outside the fallout zone and 18% of their offspring displayed similar problems.
It has been reported that the sterilising dose of external radiation to pupae of the melon fly had no influence on eclosion rate and adult longevity36. Similarly, silk moth pupae have been reported to be highly resistant to external radiation exposure37. However, closer examination of the adult morphology of various insects after irradiation has demonstrated morphological damage to testes, antennae, and wings, and frequent pupal and larval death due to molting failure38, 39, 40. We showed that Z. maha is sensitive to external radiation at the level of 55 mSv from 137Cs. It is probable that this level of radiation is similar to the field exposure level at least in some areas around the Fukushima Dai-ichi NPP. Although exposure levels of Z. maha in this study are relatively low, the abnormalities observed in this butterfly were similar to those previously reported in other insects38, 39, 40. Furthermore, our results are consistent with the previous field studies that showed that butterfly populations are highly sensitive to artificial radionuclide contamination in Chernobyl and Fukushima10, 15, 17. Together, the present study indicates that the pale grass blue butterfly is probably one of the best indicator species for radionuclide contamination in Japan.
Kidding aside though, the way things are going, eventually they will have to just admit defeat and evacuate all of Japan.