1. Recent research has addressed the function of herbivore-induced plant volatiles in attracting natural enemies of feeding herbivores. While many types of insect herbivory appear to elicit volatile responses, those triggered by gall insects have received little attention. Previous work indicates that at least one gall insect species induces changes in host-plant volatiles, but no other studies appear to have addressed whether gall insects trigger plant indirect defences. 2. The volatile responses of wheat to feeding by larvae of the Hessian fly Mayetiola destructor (Say) (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) were studied to further explore indirect responses of plants to feeding by gall insects. This specialist gall midge species did not elicit a detectable volatile response from wheat plants, whereas a generalist caterpillar triggered volatile release. Moreover, Hessian fly feeding altered volatile responses to subsequent caterpillar herbivory. 3. These results suggest that Hessian fly larvae exert a degree of control over the defensive responses of their host plants and offer insight into plant-gall insect interactions. Also, the failure of Hessian fly larvae to elicit an indirect defensive response from their host plants may help explain why natural enemies, which often rely on induced volatile cues, fail to inflict significant mortality on M. destructor populations in the field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science