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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Lee A. Dyer.

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Dyer, L.A., Deane Bowers, M. The importance of sequestered iridoid glycosides as a defense against an ant predator. J Chem Ecol 22, 1527–1539 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02027729

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Key words

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