The effect of nutrition on insect behavior [abstract]
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1. The Ovipositional Behavior of the parasitic wasp, Euplectrus comstockii Prior studies have demonstrated a significant decline in the health of caterpillars when deprived of ascorbic acid in their diets. The effect of the nutritional quality of the caterpillar on the oviposition behavior of a parasitic wasp was assessed by measuring length of time to lay eggs, number of eggs per egg clutch, and the location of eggs on the caterpillar. This study demonstrated that the wasp manifested little change in oviposition behavior toward the caterpillars of differing health. Therefore it is concluded that Euplectrus comstockii does not assess host health as part of a pre-ovipositional behavior. 2. Host Search Behavior of Neonate Western Corn Rootworm (Diabrotica virgifera) Prior studies have shown that roots of corn attract larvae of the western corn rootworm. Movement by neonate western corn rootworm larvae were analyzed following exposure to different diets to determine the effect of diet on host-finding behavior. Larvae shifted from a distant searching behavior to localized searching behavior after 5 min of contact with the roots of maize, their natural food. In contrast, larvae persisted in a distant searching behavior after 5 minutes without diet or when in contact with an oats diet. Therefore, it is concluded that the shift in distant searching behavior to a localized searching behavior is initiated by a contact cue found in maize roots. Results from additional tests suggest that the contact cue may be present in varying amounts in other parts of the maize plant.