Learning of host searching cues by the larval parasitoid Microplitis croceipes

Keiji Takasu, W. J. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


We conducted laboratory experiments using a wind tunnel to determine the effects of prior experience on the learning and retention of learned responses in the larval parasitoid Microplitis croceipes (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). Although most females that had either antennated host frass or oviposited in a host in the presence of vanilla odor, made oriented flight to the odor from down-wind in the wind tunnel at 30 min after experience, only those that had oviposited in a host with the odor responded to the odor at 24 h after experience. Females that had oviposited in the non-natural host beet armyworm (BAW) larva with or without the odor did not respond to the odor at 30 min after experience. These results indicate that an oviposition in the host in the presence of odors strongly affects associative learning and the persistence of learned response to the odors. When females were allowed to antennate host frass in the presence of vanilla and to subsequently oviposit in a host within an interval of 5 min or less, their learned response to vanilla also persisted for 24 h. Similarly, when females were conditioned to link vanilla with host frass and then allowed to make an ovipositor contact with host hemolymph, their learned response persisted for 24 h. However, antennal contact with hemolymph after such conditioning of vanilla with host frass did not improve the persistence of learned response to the odor. These results indicate that ovipositor contact with host hemolymph during oviposition is partially responsible for an increased retention of learned response. Females responded to vanilla 48% of the time at 30 min after antennating host frass without the odor, but their response to the odor significantly decreased after oviposition in a BAW larva subsequent to the antennation of host frass. This result indicates that oviposition in a BAW larva decreases subsequent response to general odors. Based on the results, we discuss the foraging behavior of M. croceipes dependent on learning and subsequent experiences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-86
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2003

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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