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A study of the olfactory responses of insect parasites to the food plant of their host

  • W. H. Thorpe (a1) and H. B. Caudle (a1)

1. Pimpla ruficollis is a parasite of the pine shoot moth Rhyacionia (Evetria) buoliana Schiff. (Eucosmidae) which emerges from its host a considerable time before the next generation of larvae are ready for oviposition. It seems that during this period the parasites leave the pine trees and feed on the flowers of certain Umbelliferae and probably other plants. Only after 3 or 4 weeks do they return to the pine trees where the shoots now contain larvae ready for egg laying.

2. It has been shown by means of olfactometer experiments that during this first period of the adult life, the parasites are repelled by the odour of oil of Pinus sylvestris. At this time the ovaries are very small and are probably not ready for the production of eggs. After the third or fourth week of life the females become attracted by the oil of P. sylvestris and the ovaries are now relatively large.

3. Since Geraniol is known to be a constituent of certain conifers, this substance was also tested. It was, however, found to be invariably repellent to the parasites.

4. There is some evidence that conclusions reached as a result of experiments with P. ruficollis also apply to the ophionine ichneumonid Eulimneria rufifemur.

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Laing, J. (1937). J. Anim. Ecol. 6, 298317.
Picard, F. & Rabaud, E. (1914). Bull. Soc. ent. Fr. pp. 266–9.
Thorpe, W. H. (1930). Bull. ent. Res. 21, 387412.
Thorpe, W. H. & Jones, F. G. W. (1937). Proc. roy. Soc. B, 124, 5681.
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  • ISSN: 0031-1820
  • EISSN: 1469-8161
  • URL: /core/journals/parasitology
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