Convergent evolution in the antennae of a cerambycid beetle, Onychocerus albitarsis, and the sting of a scorpion
Venom-injecting structures have arisen independently in unrelated arthropods including scorpions, spiders, centipedes, larval owlflies and antlions, and Hymenoptera (wasps, ants, and bees). Most arthropods use venom primarily as an offensive weapon to subdue prey, and only secondarily in defense against enemies. Venom is injected by biting with fangs or stinging with a specialized hypodermic structure used exclusively for the delivery of venom (usually modified terminal abdominal segments). A true sting apparatus, previously known only in scorpions and aculeate wasps, is now known in a third group. We here report the first known case of a cerambycid beetle using its antennae to inject a secretion that causes cutaneous and subcutaneous inflammation in humans. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that the terminal antennal segment of Onychocerus albitarsis (Pascoe) has two pores opening into channels leading to the tip through which the secretion is delivered. This is a novel case of convergent evolution: The delivery system is almost identical to that found in the stinger of a deadly buthid scorpion.