Host recognition cues of the granary weevil parasitoid Lariophagus distinguendus



Host recognition was examined in Lariophagus distinguendus (Förster), a parasitoid of larvae of the granary weevil Sitophilus granarius (L.) that live endophytically in wheat grains. On encountering a grain infested with S. granarius, females of L. distinguendus behave in a set sequence. First they show antennal drumming on the grain, second they tap with the tip of the abdomen on the grain surface, third they drill into the grain and then insert their ovipositor. Bioassays revealed that drumming and drilling was stimulated by non-volatile chemicals present on the grain-host complex. Host faeces and herbivore damaged grain material stimulated the most activity, followed by artificially damaged grain, and healthy grain. This is the first report on non-volatile chemicals released from herbivore-damaged seeds as signals for foraging parasitoids. Volatile chemicals from the faeces alone were not active. Experiments on the use of physical cues revealed that the presence of a three-dimensional structure increased the response towards chemicals from the faeces. The shape (ovoid or rectangular solid) and colour (brown or white) of the structure had no impact. Thus, physical cues alone were insufficient to stimulate host recognition behaviour, but acted by increasing the response towards the chemical stimuli.