Predator–prey interaction between greenhead ants and processionary caterpillars is mediated by chemical defence

Uemura, Mizuki, Perkins, Lynda E., Zalucki, Myron P. and Cribb, Bronwen W. (2017) Predator–prey interaction between greenhead ants and processionary caterpillars is mediated by chemical defence. Animal Behaviour, 129 213-222. doi:10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.05.023


Author Uemura, Mizuki
Perkins, Lynda E.
Zalucki, Myron P.
Cribb, Bronwen W.
Title Predator–prey interaction between greenhead ants and processionary caterpillars is mediated by chemical defence
Journal name Animal Behaviour   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0003-3472
1095-8282
Publication date 2017-07-01
Year available 2017
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.anbehav.2017.05.023
Open Access Status File (Author Post-print)
Volume 129
Start page 213
End page 222
Total pages 10
Place of publication London, United Kingdom
Publisher Academic Press
Language eng
Formatted abstract
The predatory greenhead ant, Rhytidoponera metallica, readily attacks some insects but not the processionary caterpillar, Ochrogaster lunifer. This urticarial lepidopteran larva is covered in long hairs and has numerous smaller, detachable barbed setae present on the third instar and older larvae. These setae are a health risk to humans and other mammals. In this study, we tested whether O. lunifer larvae are defended against invertebrate predators, using R. metallica as an example. Field experiments at R. metallica nests and laboratory olfactometer experiments were used to assess possible behavioural, morphological and chemical defence mechanisms. We found that a volatile chemical component from O. lunifer larvae inhibited attack/approach by R. metallica. This odour was associated with O. lunifer cuticular components: larval hairs, setae and exoskeleton. Behavioural defence was not found to inhibit R. metallica attack. Furthermore, despite the dense hairs and setae covering O. lunifer larvae, these did not act as a physical barrier to ant attack. Our study demonstrates the key role of chemical ecology in invertebrate interactions involving such hairy caterpillars. Future isolation of the deterrent chemical(s) produced by O. lunifer larvae may offer novel possibilities for managing ant behaviour.
Keyword Caterpillar defences
Chemical defence mechanism
Predator–prey interactions
Predatory ants
Processionary caterpillars
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
School of Biological Sciences Publications
Centre for Microscopy and Microanalysis Publications
 
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