Exceptional Use of Sex Pheromones by Parasitoids of the Genus <i>Cotesia</i>: Males Are Strongly Attracted to Virgin Females, but Are No Longer Attracted to or Even Repelled by Mated Females
Turlings, Ted C.J
Insects, MDPI, 2014/5/3/499-512
Sex pheromones have rarely been studied in parasitoids, and it remains largely unknown how male and female parasitoids locate each other. We investigated possible attraction (and repellency) between the sexes of two braconid wasps belonging to the same genus, the gregarious parasitoid, <i>Cotesia glomerata</i> (L.), and the solitary parasitoid, <i>Cotesia marginiventris</i> (Cresson). Males of both species were strongly attracted to conspecific virgin females. Interestingly, in <i>C. glomerata</i>, the males were repelled by mated females, as well as by males of their own species. This repellency of mated females was only evident hours after mating, implying a change in pheromone composition. Males of <i>C. marginiventris</i> were also no longer attracted, but not repelled, by mated females. Females of both species showed no attraction to the odors of conspecific individuals, male or female, and <i>C. glomerata</i> females even appeared to be repelled by mated males. Moreover, the pheromones were found to be highly specific, as males were not attracted by females of the other species. Males of <i>Cotesia glomerata</i> even avoided the pheromones of female <i>Cotesia marginiventris</i>, indicating the recognition of non-conspecific pheromones. We discuss these unique responses in the context of optimal mate finding strategies in parasitoids.
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