Amazing Insect Defence Mechanisms

Posted on: January 6, 2021, in Blog

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In the wild, it’s about survival of the fittest, or in the case of insects, the craftiest. They can fall prey to various predators and being small they have to up their game and use clever insect defense mechanisms to survive.

Lights…camera…action

Insects sometimes have to connect to their inner actor to avoid ending up as some critters lunch. It might sound simple, but it is quite effective, but lying on the ground not moving and playing dead has saved many vulnerable insects from getting eaten.

Burn baby, burn

Humans have made use of chemical warfare for centuries. They might have gotten the idea from certain insects. Some bugs give off chemicals that will burn their attacker when they come into contact with them. While  the attacker is trying to recover from the stinging sensation, it gives the prey time to scurry away.

Gone in 60 seconds

Sometimes, just being able to outrun your enemy will save your hide. For many insects a quick escape by running or flying is the most effective primary mode of defense. 

Tough as nails

Having a tough exterior can work in your favour. Some insects, like the Ironclad Beetle, have such hard exoskeletons that it will literally take a drill to penetrate their steel like armour. Others have spines, bristles or hairs that will make them unpalatable to eat. (You’ll understand their pain if you have ever tried being brave and eaten a Mopani worm…the creepy texture…)

You can’t see me

Blending in with their environment, with their pattern, colour or texture, has aided some insects in avoiding becoming prey of predators. Paired with sitting completely still their predators are unable to see them and so they avoid being eaten.

Mimesis

Fancy patterns and colours blending into the environment is not the only way to avoid being seen in the insect word, some insects can mimic the environment they are in. A thorn could really be a treehopper; a twig might be a walking stick insect, an assassin bug, or a caterpillar; and sometimes a dead leaf turns out to be a katydid, a moth, or even a butterfly.

Revolting against the machine

Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of digging into a tasty treat and it being off? It’s a taste that you won’t forget easily and the unpleasant taste will stay with you. Some insects have a foul smelling discharge or just taste off naturally making them less palatable. A predator might have the unfortunate encounter of eating one of these putrid morsels, but it will definitely deter them from having a repeat of the unpleasant dining experience.

Stop says the red light

Insects come in all shapes, sizes and colours. Usually brightly coloured insects are either poisonous or have other built in defence mechanisms to defend themselves. Predators will associate these bright coloured insects with danger and steer clear from them.

Insects might have clever defence mechanisms to ward off attacks from their enemies, but unfortunately, us humans aren’t so lucky when it comes to warding off insect pest invasions. If you are not sure what type of pest you are dealing with, please contact us with a photo of the critter and where you found them. If we cannot identify the critter in question, we will contact an entomologist expert to help identify it and suggest the best solution for your pest invasion.

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