Thursday, November 25, 2010

UPDATE: Why you should not attack a boxelder bug if you are a green anole

Janet Creamer (you should read her blog; it's great) did a bit of sleuthing into Boxelder Bugs - my recent post on this insect RIGHT HERE - and came up with the following:

I was curious about what made them taste bad, too, since they eat stuff in the maple family. Not sure how it is made, but basically they squirt out a foul smelling substance made mainly from 84% beta-pinene (think pine-sol) and 15% limonene (think lemon juice). I guess if I was sprayed in the face with pine-sol and lemon juice, I would decide to eat something else, too. The abstract is below:

Monoterpene hydrocarbons may serve as antipredation defensive compounds in Boisea trivittata, the boxelder bug.
Palazzo MC, Setzer WN.

Department of Chemistry, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama 35899, USA.

Boxelder bugs, Boisea trivittata, are deterred from predation by green anoles (Anolis carolinensis). Hydrodistillation and GC-MS analysis reveals B. trivittata to contain the volatile monoterpene hydrocarbons beta-pinene (83.9%), limonene (14.7%), myrcene (0.8%), and (E)-beta-ocimene (0.6%). The presence of these antifeedant volatile chemicals may serve to provide some protection of boxelder bugs from predation.

So there you go. My advice to any Green Anoles who may read this blog and are thinking of confronting a Boxelder Bug? Unless you want to get blasted in the face with pine-sol strongly laced with tart lemon juice, don't do it!


joan said...

Thanks. I'll be sure to pass the word along to all my Green Anole friends.

Jim McCormac said...

Yes, very good Joan, and please warn off any other lizards that you may know.