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Abstract

Chemical information often mediates interactions between predators and prey, and threat-sensitivity theory includes predictions that prey species should respond to chemical signatures of predators in a manner that is commensurate with the level of the assessed threat. Using the European house cricket (Acheta domesticus), we explored the influence of diet-derived cues from the centipede Scolopocryptops sexspinosus on anti-predator behavior in three laboratory experiments. In experiment 1, we compared the amount of time that adult female crickets spent on untreated filter paper and filter paper exposed to centipedes fed either the larvae of Hermetia illucens (black soldier fly), crickets, or a mixture of fly larvae and crickets. We discovered that crickets spent significantly less time on filter paper exposed to centipedes fed crickets only or a mixture of crickets and fly larvae compared with blank filter paper or filter paper exposed to centipedes fed fly larvae only. In our second experiment, we compared the amount of time that crickets spent on blank filter paper and filter paper exposed to adult female conspecifics to rule out the possibility that crickets simply avoid all filter paper exposed to metabolic by-products, and crickets exhibited no discrimination. In our third experiment, we tested the potential effects of diet order on anti-predatory behaviors. Specifically, we compared the amount of time that adult female crickets spent on filter paper exposed to centipedes fed fly larvae followed by crickets and filter paper exposed to centipedes fed crickets followed by fly larvae. We discovered no diet sequence effect. Our study demonstrates that European house crickets are sensitive to the chemical cues of their centipede predators, but only when centipedes have fed upon crickets.