Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1527–1539 | Cite as

The importance of sequestered iridoid glycosides as a defense against an ant predator

  • Lee A. Dyer
  • M. Deane Bowers


We reared larvae ofJunonia coenia Hubner (Nymphalidae) on artificial diets with trace concentrations of iridoid glycosides and on leaf diets with higher concentrations of iridoid glycosides. We offered these caterpillars to predacious ants and observed the effects of the following on predation: diet (artificial vs. leaf), site (ant colonies in dry vs. wet areas), instar (early vs. late), and time (changes in predation over five days). Diet and site were consistently significant predictors of the ants' propensities to reject prey and the caterpillars' abilities to escape predation. Leaf-diet caterpillars escaped more frequently than artificial-diet caterpillars, and ants from dry sites were more likely to reject prey than ants from wet sites. The percentage of iridoid glycosides found in individual caterpillars was also a good predictor of the probability of rejection by predators and prey escape. Caterpillars with higher levels of iridoids were more likely to be rejected and to escape, suggesting that sequestered iridoid glycosides are a defense against predaceous ants.

Key words

Predation iridoid glycosides Junonia coenia Formica planipiles Plantago lanceolata specialist herbivore larval defenses unpalatability sequestration 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee A. Dyer
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. Deane Bowers
    • 2
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentMesa State CollegeGrand Junction
  2. 2.University of Colorado Museum and Department of EPO BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulder

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