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Chemical ecology of oviposition in phytophagous insects

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  • Insect Chemical Ecology
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Summary

Selection of a suitable site for oviposition by phytophagous insects is critical for successful development of the offspring. The behavioral events leading to oviposition are mediated to a large extent by chemical cues associated with potential host plants. Orientation and landing are primarily guided by volatile constituents of a plant, whereas assessment of a leaf surface depends on contact stimuli. Chemical mechanisms that ensure adequate spacing of progeny on limited resources include the production of oviposition-deterring pheromones as well as recognition of plant constituents released as a result of previous damage. Perception of chemical cues that affects oviposition involves receptors on antennae, tarsi, mouthparts or the ovipositor. Complex behavior such as tarsal ‘drumming’ or stem runs may serve to provide increased receptor contact with chemical stimuli. Abiotic and biotic environmental factors often influence the production or release of behavior-modifying chemicals by a plant, and therefore affect oviposition preferences. Plant chemistry may be involved in associative learning, but may also lead to ‘mistakes’. Thus a clear correlation between oviposition preference and offspring success does not always exist.

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Renwick, J.A.A. Chemical ecology of oviposition in phytophagous insects. Experientia 45, 223–228 (1989). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01951807

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