Indexed on: 13 Feb '15Published on: 13 Feb '15Published in: Journal of insect behavior
The recognition by female phytophagous insects of a plant as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ host for egg laying is based on a variety of cues (either visual, physical or chemical). Specific cues are often looked for during stereotypic oviposition behaviors, composed of several phases having their own function(s). In this study the oviposition behavior of the pollen beetle Meligethes aeneus, a pest which lays eggs in flower buds of only some brassicaceous plants, was described in detail on five oilseed rape (Brassica napus) genotypes. In parallel, setae borne by the ovipositor were characterized by scanning electron microscopy. Observations showed that the stereotypic oviposition sequence is functionally divided into three independent phases: external inspection, internal inspection and egg laying. The ovipositor plays a role in all phases by gaining information about external and internal bud parts. This role appears to be only physical since all the setae it bears are mechanoreceptors. Despite the fact that the pollen beetle is a specialist for oviposition, important variations in secondary metabolites that are typical of its host plant family (i.e., glucosinolates) on the bud did not influence clutch size. The crucial phase in the oviposition sequence seems to be the external inspection, during which poor and high-quality host plants are probably discriminated. Chemical information on bud surface is likely to be determinant in this process.