Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Aphids Leave Old Exoskeletons Near Their Colonies, As Decoys

Date:
December 31, 2008
Source:
BMC Evolutionary Biology
Summary:
By leaving the remains of their old exoskeletons, called 'exuviae', in and around their colonies, aphids gain some measure of protection from parasites. Parasitoid wasps are likely to attack the empty shells, resulting in a lower attack rate on their previous occupants -- much like in the popular 'shell game' confidence trick.

An aphid being parasitized by an aphidiinae wasp.
Credit: Muratori et al., BMC Evolutionary Biology 2008

By leaving the remains of their old exoskeletons, called 'exuviae', in and around their colonies, aphids gain some measure of protection from parasites. New reserarch has shown that parasitoid wasps are likely to attack the empty shells, resulting in a lower attack rate on their previous occupants – much like in the popular 'shell game' confidence trick.

Frιdιric Muratori and his collaborators from the Universitι catholique de Louvain, Belgium, and McGill University, Canada, studied the insects in an effort to explain the aphids' tendency to leave exuviae around their colonies, behaviour the authors describe as 'bad housekeeping'. He said, "By leaving exuviae around the colony, aphids make detection easier for the parasite wasps. As such, this behaviour has been thought counter-selective. Here we show that the exuviae act as a decoy, and the time the wasps spend investigating the old shells limits the damage done to the aphid population".

Aphidiinae wasps use an ovipositor at the rear of their abdomen to lay their eggs inside aphids. Eventually, the development of the parasitoid larva is fatal for the aphid concerned. The authors predicted that the areas littered with exuviae decoys would be seen as poor hunting grounds by the wasps who would move on to other patches. In fact, Muratori describes how, "We found that parasitoid females spent more time in patches that contained exuviae than in patches that contained only aphids, suggesting that these females either did not recognize exuviae as low quality hosts or needed time to correctly identify them".

The potential gain for the individual aphids comes from the increased time available to escape from the colony while the wasps are investigating the decoys. According to the authors, "Aphids release an alarm pheromone when they are under parasitoid attack, giving other aphids time to escape. In nature this is achieved by dropping off the plant".


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMC Evolutionary Biology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Frederic B Muratori, David D Damiens, Thierry Hance and Guy Boivin. Bad housekeeping: why do aphids leave their exuviae inside the colony? BMC Evolutionary Biology, (in press)

Cite This Page:

BMC Evolutionary Biology. "Aphids Leave Old Exoskeletons Near Their Colonies, As Decoys." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 December 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081218213627.htm>.
BMC Evolutionary Biology. (2008, December 31). Aphids Leave Old Exoskeletons Near Their Colonies, As Decoys. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081218213627.htm
BMC Evolutionary Biology. "Aphids Leave Old Exoskeletons Near Their Colonies, As Decoys." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/12/081218213627.htm (accessed October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Dolphins Might Use Earth's Magnetic Field As A GPS

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A study released Monday suggests dolphins might be able to sense the Earth's magnetic field and possibly use it as a means of navigation. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
How To Battle Stink Bug Season

How To Battle Stink Bug Season

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — Homeowners in 33 states grapple with stink bugs moving indoors at this time of year. Here are a few tips to avoid stink bug infestations. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
California University Designs Sustainable Winery

California University Designs Sustainable Winery

Reuters - US Online Video (Sep. 27, 2014) — Amid California's worst drought in decades, scientists at UC Davis design a sustainable winery that includes a water recycling system. Vanessa Johnston reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins