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Spatio‐temporal analysis of the role of faecal depositions in aggregation behaviour of the triatomine Rhodnius prolixus

Falvo, Marianel L., Lorenzo Figueiras, Alicia N., Manrique, Gabriel
Physiological entomology 2016 v.41 no.1 pp. 24-30
Rhodnius prolixus, aggregation behavior, defecation, feces, insects, nutritional status, nymphs
Several triatomine species aggregate over conspecific faeces. In some domestic species, this behaviour might help individuals to find their refuges because faeces are usually deposited around such places. In the present study, the defaecation behaviour of the triatomine bug Rhodnius prolixus Stål (Heteroptera: Reduviidae) is described in detail, including the temporal pattern of aggregation of nymphs with different nutritional status to faeces of different post‐deposition times. First, using an experimental arena, the spatial distribution of faecal deposition spots released by nymphs, in relation to the position of a refuge, is recorded. The results show that a high density of faeces is deposited inside the refuge, and few and distant spots, in relation to the position of the refuge, are dropped outside. Second, whether the aggregation behaviour of nymphs is altered by the time elapsed from deposition of the faeces, and by the nutritional status of the insects, is determined. The post‐deposition time of the faeces strongly modulates the aggregation response of the insects. Differences in aggregation between fed and unfed insects are only marginally significant; however, different temporal windows of aggregation according to the post‐deposition times of the faeces are demonstrated between bugs of different nutritional status. The results are discussed with respect to the relevance of the aggregation signal in relation to the characteristics of the natural refuges used by R. prolixus.