Rove beetles of the genus Stenus Latreille and the genus Dianous Leach possess pygidial glands containing a multifunctional secretion of piperidine and pyridine-derived alkaloids as well as several terpenes. One important character of this secretion is the spreading potential of its different compounds, stenusine, norstenusine, 3-(2-methyl-1-butenyl)pyridine, cicindeloine, α-pinene, 1,8-cineole and 6-methyl-5-heptene-2-one. The individual secretion composition enables the beetles to skim rapidly and far over the water surface, even when just a small amount of secretion is emitted. Ethological investigations of several Stenus species revealed that the skimming ability, skimming velocity and the skimming behaviour differ between the Stenus species. These differences can be linked to varied habitat claims and secretion saving mechanisms. By means of tensiometer measurements using the pendant drop method, the spreading pressure of all secretion constituents as well as some naturally identical beetle secretions on the water surface could be established. The compound 3-(2-methyl-1-butenyl)pyridine excelled stenusine believed to date to be mainly responsible for skimming relating to its surface activity. The naturally identical secretions are not subject to synergistic effects of the single compounds concerning the spreading potential. Furthermore, evolutionary aspects of the Steninae's pygidial gland secretion are discussed.
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