Main content area

The ant nest “bomber”: Explosive defensive system of the flanged bombardier beetle Paussus favieri (Coleoptera, Carabidae)

Muzzi, Maurizio, Di Giulio, Andrea
Arthropod structure & development 2019 v.50 pp. 24-42
Carabidae, ant nests, arthropods, chemical defenses, elytra, fluorescence, quinones, scanning electron microscopy, sclerotization, ultrastructure
Bombardier beetles are famous for their unique ability to explosively discharge hot quinones from their pygidial glands when threatened. Here we provide the first detailed description of the ultrastructure of the defensive gland system of the genus Paussus, the most speciose genus in the ground beetle subfamily Paussinae. Paussine beetles are commonly known as “flanged bombardier beetles” due to the presence of a flange on their elytra that assists in directing their defensive chemicals toward the front of their bodies. In this paper, we use optical, fluorescence and focused ion beam (FIB/SEM) microscopy to analyse and illustrate anatomy and ultrastructure of the explosive defensive system of Paussus favieri, a charismatic myrmecophilous species. The defensive system of this species consists of two independent, symmetrical glands each composed of secretory lobes, a long collecting duct, a bilobed reservoir chamber, a cuticular valve, a sclerotized reaction chamber, and an accessory chamber, associated with the reaction chamber, that is surrounded by several isolated glandular cells. Differences between the pygidial defensive systems of Paussus favieri and those of Brachininae are discussed.