The host-foraging behavior of female entomophagous parasitoids is commonly modified by positive associative learning. Typically, a rewarding experience (e.g., successful oviposition in a host) increases a female's foraging effort in a host microhabitat of the type associated with that experience. Less well understood are the effects of unrewarding experiences (i.e., unsuccessful foraging). The influence of unrewarding experience on microhabitat choice and residence time within a microhabitat was examined for the eucoilid parasitoid, Leptopilina heterotoma, in laboratory and greenhouse assays. As determined previously, females which oviposited successfully in either of two microhabitat types (fermenting apple or decaying mushroom) strongly preferred to forage subsequently on that microhabitat type. However, failure to find hosts in the formerly rewarding microhabitat caused females to reverse their preference in favor of a novel microhabitat type. The effect, though striking, was transient: within 1-2 h, the original learned preference was nearly fully restored. Similar effects of unrewarding experiences were observed with respect to the length of time spent foraging in a microhabitat. As determined previously, oviposition experience in a particular microhabitat type increased the time spent foraging in a patch of that microhabitat type. However, failure to find hosts in the patch caused the time a wasp spent in the next unoccupied patch of that type to decrease to almost nothing. In addition, there was a tendency for an unrewarding experience on a formerly rewarding microhabitat type to extend the time spent in a patch of a novel type. The function of the observed effects of unrewarding experiences is discussed.
- Leptopilina heterotoma
- host selection
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science