The Effects of Starvation on Olfactory Responses of the Blood-Sucking Triatomin, Rhodnius prolixus
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe triatomine, Rhodnius prolixus, is a nocturnal, obligated blood-feeding insect that relies heavily on olfactory cues for finding mates, hosts, and refuges. Aggregation pheromones, present in conspecific feces and serve to mark refuge locations, elicit olfactory-driven behavior of the insect, which is modulated by temporal factors. However, it is not known if the physiological factor, hunger, also modulates the response to the pheromone. Behavioral experiments using nymphs of R. prolixus starved for three lengths of time post-ecdysis were conducted. Insects were individually tested during the three hours of scotophase in a dual choice, T-shaped olfactometer. Non-starved insects were found to distribute randomly in presence of two out of the four host-derived odors tested and aggregation pheromones. Starved nymphs significantly preferred the host-derived odors, but had reduced attraction to aggregation pheromones. Lastly, insects with prolonged starvation were significantly attracted to both aggregation pheromones and host-derived odors. Observed behaviors may present advantages for the insect in an ecological perspective.
Degree ProgramHonors College
Ecology and Evolutionary Biology