Protective sociality in grasshoppers - Schützendes Sozialverhalten bei Heuschrecken
Fressen von chemischen Stoffen
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Zonocerus elegans as well as Phymateus leprosus feed on various plants, many of which contain noxious substances. These are are stored in special glands and ejected in aversive secretions if the animal is attacked; pyrrolizidine alkaloids are used by Z. elegans, cardiac glycosides by P. leprosus. We found that both species are attracted to and ingest the respective pure chemicals offered on filter paper.
Phymateus leprosus hoppers form compact aggregations that disperse when frightened but can easily be lured and collected using a branch of Asclepias fruticosa.     © Wickler
Zonocerus elegans in the field is attracted by pure pyrrolizidine alkaloids
© Wickler

Seibt, Uta, Kasang, Gerhard & Wickler, Wolfgang 2000: Suggested pharmacophagy of the African bushhopper Phymateus leprosus (Fabricius) (Pyrgomorphidae, Orthoptera). Zeitschrift für Naturforschung 55c, 442-448.

Boppré, Michael, Seibt, Uta & Wickler, Wolfgang 1984: Pharmacophagy in grasshoppers? Zonocerus attracted to and ingesting pure pyrrolizidine alkaloids. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata 35, 115-117.