Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 25, Issue 5, pp 1007-1027

First online:

Chemical Defense in Larval Tortoise Beetles: Essential Oil Composition of Fecal Shields of Eurypedus nigrosignata and Foliage of its Host Plant, Cordia curassavica

  • Nélida E. GómezAffiliated withSmithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • , Ludger WitteAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmazeutische Biologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig
  • , Thomas HartmannAffiliated withInstitut für Pharmazeutische Biologie, Technische Universität Braunschweig

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Larvae of the tortoise beetle Eurypedus nigrosignata construct fecal shields using cast skins and fecal strands. Survival of larvae with intact shields was higher in the field than for larvae with shields removed. In the laboratory, E. nigrosignata feculae had a deterrent effect on feeding in the ant Myrmica rubra as did an extract of the host plant, Cordia curassavica. Three chemical types were identified in the host-plant foliage and were named β-terpinene, α-pinene, and sabinene, depending on their mono- and sesquiterpene composition. This is the first report of lower terpenes (essential oils) in foliage of Cordia. Fecal shields of E. nigrosignata displayed the same terpene pattern as larval host-plant leaves. The absolute concentration of mono- and sesquiterpenes in the dorsal fecal shield depended on the plant chemical type and tended to decrease with larval age. No oxidation or detoxification products of ingested terpenes were detected in the larval fecula, indicating that the chemical composition of the larval fecal shield is influenced primarily by the host-plant secondary chemistry.

Eurypedus nigrosignata tortoise beetle Chrysomelidae Cordia curassavica Boraginaceae lower terpenes essential oil chemical type chemotype fecal shield chemical defense