Mechanical Barriers

In contrast to plants which defend against predators by enforcement of their cell walls by lignans and cellulose, insects and crabs protect sensitive organs with their chitin 1 exoskeleton, generated from /3-(1-4)-polymerization of A-acetyl-d-glucosamine (Figure 1). Arthropods such as woodlice (e.g., Armadillidium vulgare) make best use of their chitin 1 shielding, forming their body into a ball and thus not exposing weak body parts. Alternatively, many slow-moving snails rely on their snail shell made of calcium carbonate as a solid and safe shelter. Social insects, for example, ants or termites, build large nests that provide shelter against attack with the most important member of the community, the queen, hidden deep inside the nest. Particularly, the nests of termites are very solid mud constructions. In addition to protection from aggressors, the buildings also protect from extreme climatic conditions, for example, exposure to sunlight. The use of building material is also observed for individual insects, such as larvae of the chrysomelid palmetto tortoise beetle (Hemisphaerota cyanea) that shield their bodies with their own feces.

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