When experienced by contact with feces from hosts feeding on cowpeas, laboratory-reared females of Microplitis croceipes, a larval parasitoid of Heliothis spp., orient and fly to odors of the same feces, whereas naive laboratory-reared females do not. Flight-tunnel studies revealed that associative learning occurs during female encounters with hosts and host products. When females antennate host feces, they learn to recognize the volatile odors associated with the feces. Females even can be conditioned to respond to novel and otherwise unattractive odors such as vanilla extract by exposure to these volatile substances in association with a water extract of the feces. They apparently link the volatile odors with a nonvolatile hostspecific recognition chemical found in the feces. The antennating stimulant, 13-methylhentriacontane, was found to be a valuable ingredient, apparently as a facilitator of the initial antennation and subsequent linkage of the volatiles to the nonvolatile host recognition cue.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics