Author Interview: Bombardiers and assassins: mimetic interactions between unequally defended insects

by | Jun 6, 2023 | Author Interview

PeerJ talks to Dr. Shinji Sugiura from the Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kobe University about the recently published PeerJ Life & Environment article Bombardiers and assassins: mimetic interactions between unequally defended insects.

Experimental procedures and results of generalisation tests.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am interested in various types of species interactions, particularly in the field of anti-predator defenses of insects, which we have recently been investigating.


Can you briefly explain the research you published in PeerJ?
Animals employ various strategies to defend themselves against natural enemies. Well-defended species often share conspicuous body colors with other well-defended or undefended species, forming mimetic interactions. Bombardier beetles eject toxic chemicals at a temperature of 100°C to repel enemies such as frogs, and many have warning body colors that function to deter enemies. An assassin bug, Sirthenea flavipes, exhibits a conspicuous body color similar to the bombardier beetle Pheropsophus occipitalis jessoensis which coexist with the assassin bug in the same habitat in Japan. The assassin bug can stab with its proboscis, causing severe pain in humans. Although both insects are well defended, the mimetic interaction between the bombardier beetle and the assassin bug remains unclear. We found that the bombardier beetle P. occipitalis jessoensis has a stronger defense against a shared predator compared to the assassin bug S. flavipes. They also showed that both the bombardier beetle and the assassin bug benefit from the mimetic interaction via the shared predator.


What did you discover and where?
We found the mimetic interaction between the bombardier beetle P. occipitalis jessoensis and the assassin bug S. flavipes in Japan.


What was significant about your findings?
In the present study, we showed the adaptive significance of mimetic interactions between distantly related taxa.


A bombardier beetle, an assassin bug, and their potential predator.


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