Females of Cotesia marginiventris (Cresson), a generalist larval parasitoid, were observed to respond to host related odors in a four-arm olfactometer. The females were significantly more responsive to the odors after a brief contact experience with host-damaged leaves contaminated with host by products. During the experience, actual encounters with hosts were not required to improve subsequent responses to host-related odors. The response to odors of the plant-host complex with which parasitoids had experience was significantly higher than the response to odors of an alternative plant-host complex. This suggests that the experience effect is due, at least partly, to associative learning. We suspect that females of this generalist parasitoid, as was recently found for those of a specialist, recognize specific semiochemicals when they contact frass of suitable host larvae. The parasitoids, subsequently, associate the surrounding odors with the possible presence of hosts, and use these odors as cues in their search for more hosts. This could be an important component in the host-searching behavior of many parasitoids.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science