Defensive Use by an Insect of a Plant Resin

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Science  31 May 1974:
Vol. 184, Issue 4140, pp. 996-999
DOI: 10.1126/science.184.4140.996


Larvae of the sawfly Neodiprion sertifer (Hymenoptera: Diprionidae), when disturbed, discharge an oily oral effluent essentially identical chemically to the terpenoid resin of its host plant (Pinus sylvestris). The resin is sequestered by the larva upon feeding, and stored in two compressible diverticular pouches of the foregut. The fluid is effectively deterrent to predators. The defensive use by an insect of a plant resin provides an instance of secondary utilization by a herbivore of the protective chemical weaponry of its host.

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