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Poisonous Alkaloids in the Body Tissues of the Cinnabar Moth (Callimorpha jacobaeae L.)


Callimorpha jacobaeae L. (the cinnabar moth) has a brilliant red and blackish warning coloration (aposematic), and is a day-flying moth known to be unacceptable to a wide variety of vertebrate predators1–3. The larva, which feeds on groundsel (Senecio vulgaris L.) and ragwort (Senecio jacobaeae L.), has a black and yellow warning coloration and is rejected by many birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians; it is, however, preyed upon by various arthropods4. When roughly handled the imago ejects or leaks out a pungent secretion mixed with yellow haemolymph from its prothoracic glands5. The adult moth contains a remarkably high level of histamine in its body tissues (700 µg/g)—a substance frequently associated with poison glands in invertebrates6–8.

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APLIN, R., BENN, M. & ROTHSCHILD, M. Poisonous Alkaloids in the Body Tissues of the Cinnabar Moth (Callimorpha jacobaeae L.). Nature 219, 747–748 (1968).

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