Host detection by chemically mediated associative learning in a parasitic wasp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

226 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Parasitic insects use chemical cues to locate their hosts, and prior experiences can modify their responses to these odours1-4. Females of the parasitic wasp Microplitis croceipes experienced by contact with host faeces, orient and fly upwind to odours from their hosts, larvae of the moth Heliothis zea5. We use flight tunnel studies to show that associative learning occurs during encounters with host faeces. When females touch the faeces with their antennae they learn to recognize and subsequently fly to various volatile odours, even novel and otherwise unattractive odours like vanilla, associated with the faeces. They link these volatile odours with a water extractable nonvolatile chemical in the faeces, evidently a host-specific recognition cue. The association of tracking cues with host by-products, without the need for direct contact with the host, is a valuable adaptation for locating cryptic and evasive hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)257-259
Number of pages3
JournalNature
Volume331
Issue number6153
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1988

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learning
feces
odors
Microplitis croceipes
Heliothis
parasitic wasps
touch (sensation)
direct contact
antennae
byproducts
parasitoids
insect larvae
flight
water

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

Cite this

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abstract = "Parasitic insects use chemical cues to locate their hosts, and prior experiences can modify their responses to these odours1-4. Females of the parasitic wasp Microplitis croceipes experienced by contact with host faeces, orient and fly upwind to odours from their hosts, larvae of the moth Heliothis zea5. We use flight tunnel studies to show that associative learning occurs during encounters with host faeces. When females touch the faeces with their antennae they learn to recognize and subsequently fly to various volatile odours, even novel and otherwise unattractive odours like vanilla, associated with the faeces. They link these volatile odours with a water extractable nonvolatile chemical in the faeces, evidently a host-specific recognition cue. The association of tracking cues with host by-products, without the need for direct contact with the host, is a valuable adaptation for locating cryptic and evasive hosts.",
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Host detection by chemically mediated associative learning in a parasitic wasp. / Lewis, W. J.; Tumlinson, III, James Homer.

In: Nature, Vol. 331, No. 6153, 01.01.1988, p. 257-259.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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