, Volume 20, Issue 3, pp 367-376
Date: 04 May 2007

Trail-Following Behaviour in the Malacophagous Larvae of the Aquatic Sciomyzid Flies Sepedon spinipes spinipes and Dictya montana

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The ability of neonate larvae of the aquatic sciomyzids, Sepedon spinipes spinipes (Scopoli) and Dictya montana Steyskal (Diptera), to follow snail mucus trails was assessed using filter paper Y-mazes. On finding a mucus trail, larval behaviour of both species switched from unstimulated to stimulated searching behaviour, the latter being characterised by an increase in larval velocity and the frequency of lateral head taps. When fresh mucus trails were used, all of the neonates displayed a positive response and followed the mucus trail into the experimental arm. In addition, for S. s. spinipes and D. montana 80.00% and 86.67% of larvae respectively exhibited a strong response and followed the trail to its end. The stimulatory substance (s), however, appears to become inactive with time and after 45 minutes none of the tested larvae reached the trail end. These results are discussed in relation to the ability of aquatic species to forage outside of water for prey and the implications for their use in the biological control of nuisance snails.