Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 115–118 | Cite as

Mammalian breath: trigger of defensive chemical response in a tenebrionid beetle (Bolitotherus cornutus)

  • Jeffrey Conner
  • Scott Camazine
  • Daniel Aneshansley
  • Thomas Eisner


The tenebrionid beetle Bolitotherus cornutus everts a pair of quinone-producing defensive glands in response to mammalian breath. Experiments with a controlled airstream indicate that the beetle “recognizes” breath on the basis of temperature, humidity, and airflow dynamics. Under attack by mice the beetle everts the glands immediately upon being mouthed and may secure its release as a result. Against ants the beetle is protected by its tough exoskeleton and usually refrains from everting the glands. Other arthropods also show defensive responses when breathed upon.


Defensive Response Chemical Response Defensive Chemical Tenebrionid Beetle Defensive Gland 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeffrey Conner
    • 1
  • Scott Camazine
    • 1
  • Daniel Aneshansley
    • 2
  • Thomas Eisner
    • 1
  1. 1.Section of Neurobiology and BehaviorCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  2. 2.School of Electrical EngineeringCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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