Effects of experience on parasitoid movement in odour plumes


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36 Scopus citations


Abstract. Insects commonly improve the effectiveness with which they locate biotic resources through learning, but the mechanism by which experience exerts its effects has rarely been studied in detail. The effect of oviposition experience on upwind movement of the eucoilid parasitoid, Leptopilina heterotoma (Thomson) (Hym.: Eucoilidae), in odour plumes of host microhabitats, was quantified with the use of a Kramer‐type locomotion compensator. A 2h exposure to host Drosophila melanogaster larvae in either fermenting apple‐yeast or decaying mushroom substrate (known to affect their preference for these odours in glasshouse and field choice experiments) had a number of effects on movement in plumes of each substrate. Females experienced with a particular substrate walked faster and straighter, made narrower turns and spent more time in upwind movement (i.e. toward the source) in a plume of odour from that substrate than in odour from an alternative substrate. Inexperienced females, by contrast, generally showed little or no significant difference in responses to alternative odours. In addition to affecting the mean values of movement parameters, experience also affected variability around those means. When walking speed or path straightness in an odour plume was increased by experience, variability among individuals was correspondingly decreased. The consequences of odour learning for microhabitat choice is discussed briefly.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)90-96
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1992


  • Drosophila
  • Leptopilina heterotoma
  • Orientation
  • Parasitoids
  • experience
  • host selection
  • learning
  • odour
  • olfaction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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