Defensive secretion of a flightless grasshopper: Failure to prevent lizard attack

Summary

We tested the role of a grasshopper defensive secretion in deterring lizard predation. Adults, but not young larvae, of the chemically defended lubber grasshopperRomalea guttata (=microptera) froth a volatile secretion when attacked by predators. The lizardAnolis carolinensis failed to strike juvenile lubbers (which lack secretion) in laboratory trials. Survivorship of palatable crickets loaded with secretion offered toA. carolinensis was not significantly different from survivorship of control crickets. In experiments designed to investigate if lizards learn an aversion to the secretion, striking times forSceloporus undulatus fed wax worms coated with secretion were not significantly different over three days of trials. Three primary conclusions are drawn from these data. First, the secretion may not be necessary for lubber protection from lizards. Second, lubber secretion does not appear to deter lizards from attacking or eating prey items. Third, lizards do not appear to develop an aversion to the secretion.

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Hatle, J.D., Townsend, V.R. Defensive secretion of a flightless grasshopper: Failure to prevent lizard attack. Chemoecology 7, 184–188 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01266311

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Key words

  • chemical defense
  • unpalatability
  • aposematism
  • lizard foraging
  • learned aversion
  • Orthoptera
  • Romaleidae
  • Romalea guttata
  • Anolis
  • Sceloporus