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Pupae of the beetle Zophobas atratus Fab. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) have jaws called gin traps on the lateral margin of their jointed abdominal segments. When a weak tactile stimulation was applied to the intersegmental region between the two jaws of a gin trap in a resting pupa, the pupa rapidly closed and reopened single or multiple gin traps adjacent to the stimulated trap for 100200 ms. In response to a strong stimulation, a small or large rotation of the abdominal segments occurred after the rapid closure of the traps. Analyses of trajectory patterns of the last abdominal segment during the rotations revealed that the rotational responses were graded and highly variable with respect to the amplitudes of their horizontal and vertical components. The high variability of these rotational responses is in contrast with the low variability (or constancy) of abdominal rotations induced by the tactile stimulation of cephalic and thoracic appendages. Since the closed state of the gin traps lasts only for a fraction of a second, the response may mainly function to deliver a “painful” stimulus to an attacker rather than to cause serious damage.
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