Faecal shield of the tortoise beetle Plagiometriona aff. flavescens (Chrysomelidae: Cassidinae) as chemically mediated defence against predators
Larvae of Plagiometriona aff. flavescens carry a structure on their back made of faeces and exuviae, called faecal shield, which may protect larvae against natural enemies. Previous investigations suggested that the nature of such protection was chemical. To test if chemicals found in the faecal shield of Plagiometriona aff. flavescens provided defence for larvae, experiments in the field and in the laboratory (using the ant Camponotus crassus, and chicks Gallus gallus as model predators) were undertaken. Both field and laboratory experiments showed that live larvae with faecal shields, as well as baits treated with faecal shield extracts, were rejected by predators, confirming the chemical nature of this kind of defence.(Accepted August 16 2004)
Key Words: Aureliana fasciculata; chemical defence; larval defence; natural enemies; predation; Solanaceae.
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