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Parasitoid vibrations as potential releasing stimulus of evasive behaviour in a leafminer

Bacher, S., Casas, J., Dorn, S.
Physiological entomology 1996 v.21 no.1 pp. 33-43
Phyllonorycter, parasitoids, foraging, vibration, host seeking, parasites, frequency
The aim of this study was to characterize the vibratory signals produced by the parasitoid Sympiesis sericeicornis Nees (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) while foraging on apple leaves infested by one of its hosts, the spotted tentiform leafminer Phyllonorycter malella (Ger.) (Lepidoptera: Gracillariidae). This leafminer changes its behaviour as a function of the parasitoid's behaviour to escape parasitization. We propose that the leafminer uses vibrations triggered by the parasitoid to detect the presence of its enemy. We measured vibrations produced by a foraging parasitoid on a mine with a laser vibrometer. By recording concurrently the behaviour of the parasitoid on video, vibrations could be assigned to particular behaviours. Subsequently, vibrations were characterized by their dominant frequencies and intensities. The behaviours Landing and Take-off both produced strong impact-like vibrations characterized by an initial irregular phase during which frequencies up to 25 kHz occurred followed by a slow decaying regular phase. Vibrations elicited by Moving, Standing and Probing showed no clear temporal pattern. During Probing, dominant frequencies of up to 5.6 kHz were observed frequently at intensities well above the background noise (>10 dB). During Moving and Standing, vibrations were more scarce and of lower frequencies and intensities. Due to their impact-like nature, vibrations produced by Landing and Take-off are probably not specific to the parasitoid. Vibrations produced by Moving and Standing are difficult to detect and not reliable because of their non-specificity. Therefore, only Probing provides a reliable and detectable source of information for the host. The vibrations elicited during Probing could account for the evasive behaviour that is observed in this and other leafminers.