Host Location by Apterous Aphids After Escape Dropping from the Plant
In response to approaching enemies aphids may drop from their host plant to the ground. The risk of predation on the ground, desiccation and host loss, create the need for efficient host location by the dropping aphids. Most studies have focused on the factors that influence dropping behavior; only a few have addressed host location after dropping from the plant. We assessed post-dropping behavior in apterous Macrosiphoniella artemisiae (Boyer de Fonscolombe) (Aphididae), which feed on Artemisia arborescens L. Vibration of the apical bud induced dropping in 36% of the colony members. Dropping rates were highest in mature aphids (63%). In the experimental arena (without ground predators), nearly all mature aphids that were dropped 13 cm from the plant, found their way back in ca. 40 s. The location process may be based on visual cues, as M. artemisiae is capable of visually discriminating between host and non-host targets and apparently does not react to volatiles emitted from the plant.
KEY WORDS:escape response host location phototaxis olfaction orientation vision
We thank Dr. V. Soroker for allowing us to use her olfactometer and Prof. I. Izhaki for statistical advice. The useful comments of T. Gish, M. Ford, Drs. J. Heth and D. Wool on an earlier version of the MS are greatly appreciated.
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