, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 183-190

Cyanoglucoside storing cuticle of Zygaena Larvae (Insecta, Lepidoptera)

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As a deterrent against predators, larvae of Zygaena trifolii release droplets of fluid containing cyanoglucosides from segmentally arranged cuticular cavities. Histological examinations show that during the moulting period, the old cuticle, including the cavities and the secretion within them, is degraded, with the exception of a thin mesocuticular layer forming the exuviae. When the endocuticular layer of the new cuticle is deposited, the cuticle detaches from the underlying epidermis in specific areas, which leads to the formation of the cuticular cavities. During a moult-intermoult sequence the concentration of cyanoglucosides in both the haemolymph and the defensive secretion shows specific changes. These changes seem to be related to the formation and degradation of the cavities. We suggest that during the moult the cyanoglucosides are transported through the epidermis into the haemolymph to prevent them from being wasted with the exuviae and, after ecdysis, are retranslocated into the newly formed cavities.