Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 613-625

First online:

Visual and Chemical Cues Used in Host Location and Acceptance by a Dipteran Parasitoid

  • Shellee A. MoreheadAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Utah
  • , Donald H. FeenerJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Biology, University of Utah

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Locating potential hosts for egg laying is a critical challenge in the life history of many insects. Female insects in several orders have evolved mechanisms to find hosts by using olfactory and visual signals derived from their hosts. We describe visual and chemical cues used by the dipteran parasitoid Apocephalus paraponerae (Diptera: Phoridae) in the location and acceptance of its host ant Paraponera clavata (Hymenoptera: Formicidae: Ponerinae). Our results show that A. paraponerae uses the visual cue of ant body size when locating hosts at short range and that these flies lay more eggs in ants that retain their surface chemicals than in ants with these chemicals removed. We compare the cues used by A. paraponerae with cues used by tephritid fruit flies in location and acceptance of their hosts, and we suggest further avenues for the study of host location, acceptance, and host discrimination of A. paraponerae and other parasitoids of ants.

Paraponera clavata Apocephalus Phoridae dipteran parasitoids host acceptance host location