Thomas Eisner

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Female fireflies of the genus Photuris, the so-called firefly "femmes fatales," prey on male fireflies of the genus Photinus. The females are able to entrap the males by faking the flash signal characteristics of the Photinus female. We found that by feeding on Photinus males, Photuris females gain more than nutrients. They also acquire defensive steroidal(More)
The moth Utetheisa ornatrix (Lepidoptera: Arctiidae) is protected against predation by pyrrolizidine alkaloids that it sequesters as a larva from its foodplants. At mating, the male transfers alkaloid to the female with the spermatophore, a gift that the female supplements with alkaloid of her own and transmits to the eggs. Eggs are protected as a result.(More)
Hydroxydanaidal, the corematal courtship pheromone of maleUtetheisa ornatrix, shows pronounced quantitative variation in natural populations of the moth. Males that, as larvae, fed on seed-bearing rather than immature food plants (Crotalaria spectabilis orC. mucronata) produce higher levels of hydroxydanaidal. Such males also have higher systemic loads of(More)
The eggs of Utetheisa ornatrix contain pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These compounds are contributed by both parents, who sequester them as larvae from their food plants. Females receive alkaloid from the males at mating, apparently by seminal infusion, and transmit this alkaloid together with alkaloid of their own to the eggs. Field and laboratory tests showed(More)
The flower of Hypericum calycinum, which appears uniformly yellow to humans, bears a UV pattern, presumably visible to insects. Two categories of pigments, flavonoids and dearomatized isoprenylated phloroglucinols (DIPs), are responsible for the UV demarcations of this flower. Flavonoids had been shown previously to function as floral UV pigments, but DIPs(More)
Males of the butterfly Eurema lisa, like many other members of the family Pieridae, reflect ultraviolet light. The color is structural rather than pigmentary, and originates from optical interference in a microscopic lamellar system associated with ridges on the outer scales of the wing. The dimensions and angular orientation of the lamellar system conform(More)
Members of a wild group of wedge-capped capuchin monkeys (Cebus olivaceus) intentionally anoint themselves with millipedes (Orthoporus dorsovittatus). Chemical analysis revealed these millipedes secrete two benzoquinones, compounds known to be potently repellent to insects. We argue that the secretion that rubs off on the monkeys in the course of anointment(More)
Feeding tests with thrushes (Hylocichla spp.) led to the isolation of three novel steroid pyrones from fireflies (Photinus ignitus and P. marginellus) responsible, in part at least, for the unpalatability of these insects to the birds. The term lucibufagin is coined for these steroidal pyrones. The closest known relatives of lucibufagins are the familiar(More)
Female Utetheisa ornatrix exercise postcopulatory mate selection, favoring sperm of larger males. Larger males also produce larger spermatophores, raising the question whether males are selected on the basis of body size or the size of their spermatophore. We here present evidence, based on matings in which males were induced to deliver spermatophores(More)
Many mandibulate insects that feed on milkweeds, or other latex-producing plants, cut leaf veins before feeding distal to the cuts. Vein cutting blocks latex flow to intended feeding sites and can be viewed as an insect counteradaptation to the plant's defensive secretion. Experimental vein severance renders milkweed leaves edible to generalist herbivores(More)