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Integument and defence in larva and prepupa of a sawfly living on a semi-aquatic plant


The larvae of the sawfly Rhadinoceraea micans live and feed on a semi-aquatic plant, Iris pseudacorus, and their integument is strongly hydrophobic. The hydrophobicity is part of a chemical defence strategy, easy bleeding, also known from congeners. The prepupae burrow into the soil where they form a cocoon in which they pupate, thus implying different micro-environmental conditions. The cuticle structure and wetting defensive effectiveness of R. micans were compared between larvae and prepupae. The two stages were similarly well defended against attacking ants by the bleeding of a deterrent hemolymph, whereas they were dissimilar in the cuticle surface that presented sculptures and wax crystals at the larval stage only. The integument of prepupae was less structured, and hydrophilic. Larvae of R. micans exhibit, among sawflies, an exceptional cuticle structuring and we assume that they occupy this particular niche of a semi-aquatic environment to avoid encounters with ground-dwelling predators whereas prepupae may benefit from the chemical defence acquired at larval stage.

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We thank three reviewers for constructive comments on the manuscript, Frederik Hendrickx for help with the statistics, and Victoria Kastner for linguistic corrections.

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Correspondence to Jean-Luc Boevé.

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Communicated by: Sven Thatje

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Boevé, JL., Voigt, D. & Gorb, S.N. Integument and defence in larva and prepupa of a sawfly living on a semi-aquatic plant. Naturwissenschaften 100, 107–110 (2013).

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  • Tenthredinidae
  • Rhadinoceraea micans
  • Easy bleeding
  • Ant predation
  • Insect cuticle
  • Superhydrophobic surface