The cucurbitacins are oxygenated tetracyclic triterpenoids produced as secondary plant compounds by nearly all genera of Cucurbitaceae. The very bitter and toxic cucurbitacins are effective semiochemicals acting ecologically as allomones to protect the Cucurbitaceae from attack by a variety of invertebrate and vertebrate herbivores. For the Luperini (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae: Galerucinae) the cucurbitacins have become kairomones for host selection, affecting the behavior of this large group of 1500 species of Aulacophorina (Old World) and Diabroticina (New World) by arrest and compulsive feeding. When feeding on bitter cucurbits these beetles sequester large amounts of cucurbitacins in their blood and tissues, and these act as allomones to deter predation
. Specific detoxification and excretory mechanisms of the Diabroticina enable these beetles to avoid the toxic effects of the cucurbitacins.