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Behavioral responses of adult female tobacco hornworms, Manduca sexta, to hostplant volatiles change with age and mating status

Author(s): W.L. Mechaber | C.T. Capaldo | J.G. Hildebrand

Journal: Journal of Insect Science
ISSN 1536-2442

Volume: 2;
Start page: 5;
Date: 2002;
Original page

Keywords: Manduca sexta | moths | flight | oviposition | hostplant volatiles

We present evidence for two behaviors influenced by intact, vegetative plant odor -- upwind flight and abdomen curling -- in female Manduca sexta and demonstrate the influence of the age and mating status of the moths on these behaviors. We compared the behavioral responses of laboratory-reared M. sexta. of discrete ages and physiological states (2,3, and 4 day old for virgin; 2 and 3 day old for mated) as individual moths flew upwind in a flight tunnel to a source of hostplant volatiles. We monitored odor-modulated flight and abdomen curling in the presence of volatiles released by potted hostplants. Mated 3 day old females exhibited the highest incidence of odor-modulated flight and abdomen curling. Similarly, as virgin moths aged, a greater percentage of the individuals displayed odor-modulated flight patterns and abdomen curling. In contrast, younger virgin moths exhibited high levels of abdomen curling only after contact with the plant.
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