The reproductive success of parasitoids depends on their ability to locate, select, and handle hosts quickly and efficiently. Learning has been shown to play a role in host finding and host choice, but the role of learning in the handling of hosts has received little attention. We tested whether the speed and accuracy of host handling improve with experience in the wasp Ampulex compressa. This parasitoid performs an elaborate behavioral sequence when parasitizing its host, the cockroach Periplaneta americana. We provide a quantitative description of the behavioral sequence, and show that: (a) the duration of the whole sequence, (b) the number of completed stages, and (c) the precision of an important stage in the handling sequence, host antennal cutting, are similar in inexperienced and experienced individuals. We discuss features of A. compressa's life history that may select for innate host handling.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology