Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 1189–1203

Economics of chemical defense in chrysomelinae

  • M. Rowell-Rahier
  • J. M. Pasteels

DOI: 10.1007/BF01639004

Cite this article as:
Rowell-Rahier, M. & Pasteels, J.M. J Chem Ecol (1986) 12: 1189. doi:10.1007/BF01639004


Chemical defense in chrysomelid larvae (subtribe Chrysomelina and Phyllodectina) is reviewed. Most species secrete autogenous monoterpenes. The diversity of their secretion is interpreted as a mechanism to reduce adaptation by predacious arthropods. The consequences of a host plant shift to the Salicacae are explored. Salicin from these host plants is used as a precursor for the salicylaldehyde secreted by the larvae of many species. This offers several advantages. It provides the larvae with an inexpensive and efficient defense. The recovery of the glucose moiety of the salicin contributes significantly to the larval energy budget. Adults sequester salicin in the eggs at concentrations which are toxic to ants. Owing to this maternal provisioning, neonate larvae produce salicylaldehyde from hatching onwards, whereas other species secreting monoterpenes are not protected at hatching. The secretion of salicylaldehyde by different species is considered to be chemical mimicry reinforcing visual aposematic signals.

Key words

Defensive secretion egg defense allomones Salix salicin Coleoptera Chrysomelidae monoterpenes salicylaldehyde 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Rowell-Rahier
    • 1
  • J. M. Pasteels
    • 2
  1. 1.Zoologisches Institut der UniversitätBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Biologie animaleUniversité Libre de BruxellesBruxellesBelgium

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