Exarate pupae of the beetle Zophobas atratus Fab. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) have free appendages (antenna, palp, leg, and elytron) that are highly sensitive to mechanical stimulation. A weak tactile stimulus applied to any appendage initiated a rapid rotation of abdominal segments. High-speed photography revealed that one cycle of defensive abdominal rotation was induced in an all-or-none fashion by bending single or multiple mechanosensory hairs on a leg or prodding the cuticular surface of appendages containing campaniform sensilla. The direction of the abdominal rotation completely depended on the side of stimulation; stimulation of a right appendage induced a right-handed rotation about the anterior-posterior axis of the pupal body and vice versa. The trajectories of the abdominal rotations had an ellipsoidal or pear-shaped pattern. Among the trajectory patterns of the rotations induced by stimulating different appendages, there were occasional significant differences in the horizontal (right-left) component of abdominal rotational movements. Simultaneous stimulation of right and left appendages often induced variable and complex patterns of abdominal movements, suggesting an interaction between sensory signals from different sides. When an abdominal rotation was induced in a freely lying pupa, the rotation usually made the pupa move away from or turn its dorsum toward the source of stimulation with the aid of the caudal processes (urogomphi), which served as a fulcrum for transmitting the power of the abdominal rotation to the movement or turning of the whole body. Pattern generation mechanisms for the abdominal rotation were discussed.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science