Journal of Insect Behavior (2011) 24, 380-392

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Terrence D. Fitzgerald and Alfonso Pescador-Rubio (2011)
Trail marking and abandonment of depleted feeding sites by the caterpillars of Eutachyptera psidii (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae)
Journal of Insect Behavior 24 (5), 380-392
Abstract: The caterpillars of Eutachyptera psidii (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) mark trails between their nest and distant feeding sites with a trail pheromone secreted from the ventral surfaces of their last abdominal segments. The threshold sensitivity to artificial trails prepared from an hexane extract of the pheromone was 0.75 × 10−3 caterpillar-equivalents per cm of trail. In tests of trail-specificity involving four other social species, the caterpillars responded only to trails prepared from a pheromone extract of the closely related genus Gloveria. Tests were conducted to determine the efficiency with which colonies abandon exhausted feeding sites in favor of new food finds. On their first forays after their food sources were experimentally moved from established feeding sites to new sites, 67.5 ± 3.6% of all the evening's activity occurred on pathways leading to the previously established sites. During their next two forays, 86.3 ± 3.7% and 92.1 ± 2.0% of all activity occurred on pathways leading to the new sites. Efficient abandonment of exhausted feeding sites is attributed to the persistence of the trail pheromone, differential marking of new and old pathways and to the caterpillar's ability to discern trail strength and to choose stronger over weaker trails at choice points.
(The abstract is excluded from the Creative Commons licence and has been copied with permission by the publisher.)
Link to article at publishers website
Database assignments for author(s): Terrence D. Fitzgerald

Research topic(s) for pests/diseases/weeds:
general biology - morphology - evolution
pheromones/attractants/traps


Pest and/or beneficial records:

Beneficial Pest/Disease/Weed Crop/Product Country Quarant.


Eutachyptera psidii