Experimental and Applied Acarology

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 287–295 | Cite as

Triggering chemical defense in an oribatid mite using artificial stimuli

  • Michael Heethoff
  • Günther Raspotnig


Most oribatid mites are well known for their exocrine oil gland secretions, from which more than a hundred different chemical components (hydrocarbons, terpenes, aromatics and alkaloids) have been described. The biological functions of these secretions have remained enigmatic for most species, but alarm-pheromonal and allomonal functions have been hypothesized, and demonstrated in some cases. Here, we tested different experimental stimuli to induce the release of defensive secretions in the model oribatid mite Archegozetes longisetosus Aoki. Whereas various mechanical stimuli did not result in a reproducible and complete expulsion of oil gland secretions, repeated treatments with hexane led to complete discharge. Life history parameters such as survival, development and reproduction were not influenced by the hexane treatment. Repeated hexane treatments also resulted in a complete depletion of oil glands in Euphthiracarus cribrarius Berlese.


Chemical ecology Acari Oribatida Archegozetes longisetosus 



MH is funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG-Forschungsstipendium HE4593/3-1). We thank Roy Norton for helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of ZoologyKarl-Franzens UniversityGrazAustria
  2. 2.Institute for Evolution and EcologyUniversity TübingenTübingenGermany

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