Recognition of foreign oviposition-marking pheromone in a multi-trophic context

L. L. Stelinski, C. Rodriguez-Saona, W. L. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Both phytophagous and parasitic insects deposit oviposition-marking pheromones (OMPs) following oviposition that function to inform conspecifics of a previously utilized host of reduced suitability. The blueberry maggot fly, Rhagoletis mendax Curran (Diptera: Tephritidae), deposits eggs individually into blueberries and then marks the fruit surface with an OMP which reduces acceptance of fruit for oviposition by conspecifics. Diachasma alloeum (Muesebeck) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) is a parasitic wasp attacking larval R. mendax which also deposits an OMP, signaling conspecifics of a wasp-occupied host. Behavioral studies were conducted testing the hypothesis that the OMP of the parasitic wasp modifies the oviposition behavior of its host fly. In this study, we show that the OMP of D. alloeum is recognized by R. mendax, and female flies will reject wasp-marked fruit for oviposition. Thus, we present a rare demonstration of pheromonal recognition between animals occupying different taxonomic orders and trophic levels. This chemical eavesdropping may enhance the ability of the fly to avoid fruit unsuitable for larval development.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)585-592
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2009
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


  • Blueberry maggot
  • Diachasma alloeum
  • Foraging kairomone
  • Host marking
  • Oviposition-marking pheromone
  • Parasitoid
  • Rhagoletis mendax


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