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Defenses of Water Insects

  • Konrad DettnerEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter compiles active and passive defensive mechanisms of aquatic and semiaquatic developmental stages of all insect orders against various predators. Mainly escape reactions, mechanical defense, defensive stridulation, and especially chemical defenses are described, illustrated, and tabulated. Apart from the large aquatic groups of ephemeropteran, Odonata or Trichoptera larvae especially aquatic bugs and water beetles are considered by even including small groups from Collembola up to Mecoptera.

Differences between defensive mechanisms and strategies in aquatic and terrestrial insects are described. Aquatic insects especially rely on escape, mechanical defenses, defensive stridulation, and chemical defenses. Exocrine glands are mainly restricted to large taxa with both terrestrial and aquatic representatives (adephagan beetles, Heteroptera) and not invented in aquatic groups. Chemically aquatic insects especially evolved biosynthesis of aromatic and few aliphatic compounds against microorganisms. In contrast mainly steroids are targeted against cold-blooded vertebrates such as fishes and amphibians. As compared with terrestrial insects, aquatic representatives lack many mechanisms of defense such as reflex bleeding, incorporation of toxic compounds from plants, freshwater animals, or microorganisms. Exocrine secretions of water insects are usually externalized by secretion grooming in order to receive a clean body surface, to achieve an optimal breathing, and to modify the wettability of the body surface. Generally there exists a considerable lack of knowledge concerning bionomy and especially defenses of aquatic insects.

Keywords

Mechanical Chemical defense Compilation aquatic insect orders 

Notes

Acknowledgments

In order to prepare this manuscript the help of the following collaborators and colleagues is highly acknowledged: A. Böttcher (Bayreuth), B. Dettner (Bayreuth), E. Helldörfer (Bayreuth), H. Luthardt (Bayreuth), S. Wagner (Bayreuth), V. Lavanya (Springer), Prof. Dr. Kleber del Claro (Fed. Univ. Uberlandia, Brazil) and Prof. Dr. R. Guillermo Ferreira (Sao Carlos, Brazil). During my Ernst Bresslau guest professorship at the Zoological Institute (chemical ecology in marine and freshwater systems) of University of Cologne I was highly supported by Prof. Dr. E. von Elert and PD Dr. P.Fink.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Animal Ecology IIUniversity of BayreuthBayreuthGermany

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