ABSTRACT: Abstract The host acceptance behaviour in Aphidius ervi is investigated, assessing the role of both external and internal host-associated cues, offered to the experimental parasitoids with parafilm-made aphid dummies. The reaction to internal cues present in the host haemolymph is clearly evident, and its intensity is enhanced by external cues. Parasitoid females lay few eggs in aphid dummies filled with host haemolymph. A significant increase in the number of both oviposition reactions (host stinging) and egg laying is observed only when these dummies are coated with cornicle secretion. However, this enhancement is not observed when the aphid dummies contain distilled water. Thus, the host acceptance behaviour of A. ervi females appears to be controlled by the integration of both external and internal chemical cues. The physiological basis of this behavioural response is investigated with a detailed study on the anatomy and ultrastructure of A. ervi ovipositor. The detection of chemical cues present in the host haemolymph that act as kairomones is made possible by the presence of gustatory sensilla on the tip of the ovipositor. These sensilla consist of porous areas, reached by unbranched dendrites running inside both the lower valves (i.e. first valvulae) and the unpaired upper valve (i.e. second valvulae). The mechanosensory function during oviposition appears to be provided mostly by the basiconic sensilla found on the tip of external valves (i.e. third valvulae). A tentative functional model accounting for the observed oviposition behaviour of A. ervi is proposed.
Physiological Entomology 11/2007; 32(4):305 - 312. · 1.33 Impact Factor