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Defensive Use of a Fecal Thatch by a Beetle Larva (Hemisphaerota cyanea)
Thomas Eisner and Maria Eisner
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 97, No. 6 (Mar. 14, 2000), pp. 2632-2636
Published by: National Academy of Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/122214
Page Count: 5
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The larva of the tortoise beetle, Hemisphaerota cyanea (Chrysomelidae, Cassidinae), constructs a thatch from long filamentous fecal strands, beneath which it is totally concealed. The thatch is not discarded at molting but is enlarged by addition of strands as the larva grows. Thatch construction begins when the larva hatches from the egg. Pupation occurs beneath the thatch. Two predators, a coccinellid beetle larva (Cycloneda sanguinea) and a pentatomid bug (Stiretrus anchorago), were shown to be thwarted by the thatch. However, one predator, a carabid beetle (Calleida viridipennis), feeds on the larva by either forcing itself beneath the thatch or chewing its way into it. The attack behavior is stereotyped, suggesting that the beetle feeds on Hemisphaerota larvae as a matter of routine.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America © 2000 National Academy of Sciences