Chemical Mimicry in the Myrmecophilous Beetle Myrmecaphodius excavaticollis

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Science  19 Nov 1982:
Vol. 218, Issue 4574, pp. 806-808
DOI: 10.1126/science.218.4574.806


The myrmecophilus beetle Myrmecaphodius excavaticollis (Blanchard) was found to have species-specific cuticular hydrocarbons acquired-from one of its hosts, the ant Solenopsis richteri Forel. Removal from its ant host resulted in loss of the host hydrocarbons, leaving a cuticular pattern innate to the beetle. When beetles were transferred to colonies of three other Solenopsis species, they acquired the specific hydrocarbons associated with each of the new hosts. This passive integration mechanism is coupled with the beetle's armored exterior to enable it to cope with multiple aggressive hosts.