• plant defence;
  • herbivore;
  • insect;
  • priming;
  • touch;
  • feeding;
  • egg deposition;
  • oviposition;
  • elicitor;
  • secretion

Precise and deep comprehension of plant responses to herbivorous arthropods requires detailed knowledge of how a plant “notices” the attack. Herbivore attack is not restricted to plant wounding by feeding, but instead different phases of attack that elicit a plant response need to be distinguished: touch, oviposition and feeding. Touch, secretions released with eggs and regurgitate delivered during feeding may act in concert as elicitors of plant defence. Here, we discuss the current knowledge of what a plant “notices” during the different phases of herbivore attack and how it responds at the molecular, physiological and ecological level. Understanding the mechanisms of plant responses to the different phases of herbivore attack will be a key challenge in unravelling the complex communication pathways between plants and herbivores.