Additive and Synergistic Integration of Multimodal cues of both hosts and non-hosts During Host Selection by Woodboring Insects

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John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

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Host selection by herbivorous insects is primarily thought to depend on attraction to olfactory cues emitted from the host species. However, the discrimination of these hosts from non-host species may also arise from the adaptive detection and avoidance of non-host cues, including visual characteristics. Many generalist, conifer-colonising beetles, for example, use characteristic volatiles to identify and discriminate against non-host angiosperm trees such as aspens and birches while flying. These trees also differ in bark reflectance characteristics, which could also mediate host/non-host discrimination by interacting with semiochemicals. We tested this hypothesis by evaluating the responses of eight species of polyphagous woodboring beetles to traps which simulated the visual appearance of coniferous hosts (black) and angiosperm non-hosts (white), and which were baited with host or non-host volatiles. As predicted, three species of large woodboring beetle and a woodboring wasp all avoided white, non-host-simulating traps that were baited with attractive kairomones, and preferred black, host-simulating traps. Conversely, three ambrosia beetle species demonstrated weaker visual preferences, possibly because they preferentially colonise fallen hosts that would transmit less accurate visual information. However, the ambrosia beetle Trypodendron lineatum did show a greater preference for host-coloured traps when these released host-associated kairomones in addition to their pheromone, and also avoided white non-host traps, but only when these released non-host volatiles. To our knowledge, this is the first evidence that multiple non-host cues could synergistically mediate the adaptive discrimination of hosts and non-hosts. Our results suggest that successful host location by generalists arises from the complex integration of cues in multiple sensory modes, and that foraging herbivores evaluate both hosts and non-hosts during their search.