, Volume 126, Issue 4, pp 229–243 | Cite as

Comparison of auditory sense organs in parasitoid Tachinidae (Diptera) hosted by Tettigoniidae (Orthoptera) and homologous structures in a non-hearing Phoridae (Diptera)

  • Reinhard Lakes-Harlan
  • Kirsten Jacobs
  • Geoff R. Allen
Original Paper


The dipteran parasitoids Therobia leonidei and Homotrixa alleni (Tachinidae) use acoustic cues to locate their calling tettigoniid (Ensifera, Orthoptera) hosts. The sexually dimorphic tympanal organs of both fly species are located at the prosternum. For comparison a homologous chordotonal organ in the non-hearing fly Phormia regina, Meigen (Phoridae) is also described. The scolopidial sense organs of the ears have approximately 180 sensory cells in Th. leonidei and 250 cells in H. alleni. Interspecific analysis indicates that the cell number and arrangement might be genus specific in Tachinidae. The mononematic scolopidia, each with one sensory cell, are of different sizes and insert at the tympanal membrane. Large scolopidial units (diameter of sensory cells up to 50 μm) extend longitudinally from the centre of the sensory organ towards the ligament, whereas small units (sensory cell diameter up to 10 μm) are arranged sequentially within the sensory organ. This arrangement is discussed to be a possible basis for frequency discrimination. The ultrastructure of the scolopidia is similar in the hearing and non-hearing flies. In both groups, the majority of scolopales has a diameter from 2 to 2.9 μm, although hearing species have additionally wider scolopales. The homologous chordotonal organ of Ph. regina consists of approximately 55 sensory cells of uniform direction. The data are discussed in comparison to the ears of other Diptera.


Scolopidial organ Chordotonal organ Diptera Bush crickets Homotrixa alleni Therobia leonidei Phormiaregina 



We are grateful to Prof. Stumpner for valuable discussions and critical reading of the manuscript. We thank Prof. Ehlers for use of the scanning electron microscopy facility, and Prof. Schürmann for use of the transmission electron microscope facility at the University of Göttingen. The support of Prof. Elsner and the technical help of M. Winkler are greatly appreciated.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Reinhard Lakes-Harlan
    • 1
  • Kirsten Jacobs
    • 2
  • Geoff R. Allen
    • 3
  1. 1.Institut für TierphysiologieUniversität GiessenGiessenGermany
  2. 2.Institut für Zoologie und Anthropologie, AG NeurobiologieGöttingenGermany
  3. 3.School of Agricultural Science/TIARUniversity of TasmaniaHobartAustralia

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