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Parasitoids that forage for herbivorous hosts by using infochemicals may have a problem concerning the reliability and detectability of these stimuli: host stimuli are highly reliable but not very detectable at a distance, while stimuli from the host's food are very detectable but generally not very reliable in indicating host presence. One solution to this problem is to learn to link highly detectable stimuli to reliable but not very detectable stimuli. Ample knowledge is available on how associative learning aids foraging parasitoids in the location of suitable microhabitats. However, in this paper we report on another solution to the reliability-detectability problem and present evidence for an essential, but as yet overlooked, aspect of Drosophila parasitoid ecology. For the first time it is shown that a parasitoid of Drosophila larvae spies on the communication system of adult Drosophila flies to locate potential host sites: naive parasitoids strongly respond to a volatile aggregation pheromone that is deposited in the oviposition site by recently mated female flies. Thus, the parasitoids resort to using highly detectable information from a host stage different from the one under attack (i.e. infochemical detour). The function and ecological implications of these findings are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date1993

ID: 355775