Chemical defense

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Chemical defense is the use of compounds by plants and animals to deter herbivory and predation.

In plants[edit]

Chemical defense against herbivory is common. The production of capsaicin in many strains of bell peppers is one such defense familiar to humans.

In animals[edit]

See also: Aposematism

Chemical defense is most common in insects, but the skunk is a particularly dramatic mammalian example. Other examples include the bombardier beetle which can accurately shoot a predator with a stream of boiling poison, the ornate moth which excretes a frothy alkaloid mixture, and the Pacific beetle cockroach sprays a quinone mixture from modified spiracles. Marine invertebrate animals also harbor chemical defenses, particularly tropical marine sponges.[1]


  1. ^ Pawlik, J. R. (2011). "The chemical ecology of sponges on Caribbean reefs: Natural products shape natural systems.". BioScience 61: 888–898. doi:10.1525/bio.2011.61.11.8.