, Volume 138, Issue 2, pp 312–319 | Cite as

Behavioral thermoregulation in the migratory locust: a therapy to overcome fungal infection

Behavioural Ecology


We examined under laboratory conditions the thermopreference of the migratory locust, Locusta migratoria migratorioides, following infection by the entomopathogenic fungus Metarhizium anisopliae var. acridum and its influence on mycosis. Infected locusts raised their body temperature more frequently than healthy conspecifics through selection of high temperatures in a heat gradient. Thermoregulation did not, however, alter the frequency of feeding events nor the amount of food eaten by infected L. migratoria. A thermoregulation regime of a minimum of 4 h/day substantially increased survival of inoculated insects (by 85%). However, the therapeutic effect decreased when thermoregulation was delayed following inoculation of the pathogen. Thermoregulation reduced locust mortality but did not completely eliminate the fungus from infected hosts; the fungus grew and killed the insects when thermoregulation was interrupted. We suggest that periodic, short bouts of thermoregulation, when performed from the onset of infection and for an extended period of time, are sufficient to provide a therapeutic effect to infected hosts. Such thermoregulatory capacity of locusts may limit the potential of fungal pathogens as biological control agents under certain ecological conditions.


Thermoregulation Behavioral fever Locust Entomopathogenic fungus Biological control 



We thank D. Auclair, M. Fournier, J. Blais, and N. Shallow for technical assistance; G. Daigle for his help in the statistical analyses; J. Langewald from the LUBILOSA program for providing locust eggs and fungal isolate IMI 330189; and C. Cloutier, C. Cusson, A. Hajek, and M. Thomas for useful comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. This work was supported by a scholarship from the Programme Canadien des Bourses de la Francophonie and the government of Burkina Faso to R.M.O., and a grant from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) to J.B. This is LRC Contribution number 387-02026.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de Phytologie, Centre de Recherche en HorticultureUniversité LavalSainte-FoyCanada
  2. 2.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada Research CentreLethbridgeCanada

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