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CHEMOECOLOGY

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 81–87 | Cite as

Chemical defense of an earwig (Doru taeniatum)

  • Thomas Eisner
  • Carmen Rossini
  • Maria Eisner

Summary.

The earwig Doru taeniatum (Dermaptera, Forficulidae) has a pair of defensive glands, opening on the 4th abdominal tergite, from which it discharges a spray when disturbed. It aims the discharges by revolving the abdomen, a maneuver that enables it simultaneously to use its pincers in defense. The secretion contains two quinones (methyl-1,4-benzoquinone and 2,3-dimethyl-1,4-benzoquinone) present in the glands as a crystalline mass, together with pentadecane and a (presumably) aqueous phase. The gland openings are minute, with the result that virtually no quinone crystals are expelled with the spray. Only the two liquid phases are discharged, together with the ca. 1% quinone they carry in solution. Such a solute-economizing discharge mechanism appears to be without parallel among insect defensive glands.

Key words. Defensive glands – discharge mechanism – quinones – hydrocarbon 

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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag Basel, 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas Eisner
    • 1
  • Carmen Rossini
    • 2
  • Maria Eisner
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USAUS
  2. 2.Facultad de Química, Universidad de la República, Montevideo, Uruguay CP 11624UY

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