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Multiple cues guarantee successful predation by a Neotropical wasp

In: Behaviour
Authors:
Isamara Mendes-Silva PPG Entomologia, FFCLRP, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
Laboratório de Ecologia Comportamental e Interações, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0579-4247
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Drielly Queiroga PPG Entomologia, FFCLRP, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
Laboratório de Ecologia Comportamental e Interações, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-3617-2464
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Eduardo S. Calixto PPG Entomologia, FFCLRP, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
Laboratório de Ecologia Comportamental e Interações, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil

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https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1243-9152
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Helena M. Torezan-Silingardi PPG Entomologia, FFCLRP, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
Laboratório de Ecologia Comportamental e Interações, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil

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https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0393-869X
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Kleber Del-Claro PPG Entomologia, FFCLRP, Universidade de São Paulo, Ribeirão Preto, SP, Brazil
Laboratório de Ecologia Comportamental e Interações, Instituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil

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https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8886-9568
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Abstract

Predatory social wasps are well studied in several aspects; however, foraging behaviour, especially that which takes place away from the nest at often unpredictable locations, or specialized behaviours to find and subdue prey are not well understood. In the Brazilian tropical savanna, the Polistinae wasp Brachygastra lecheguana is specialized in preying on some endophytic weevil larvae which develops inside floral buds. We hypothesized that these wasps utilize a combination of different mechanisms such as visual, chemical (odour) and possible tactile cues to find the weevil larvae. Using a combination of experimental manipulations (visual; chemical; visual/chemical) we tested the wasp’s ability to detect the endophytic larvae in the field. Additionally, we checked the ability of this wasp to detect vibrations produced by the weevils inside the buds. Our results suggest that the B. lecheguana wasp utilizes a sequence of eco-physiological mechanisms to find the endophytic larva inside floral buds: sight, smell, and perhaps touch. The use of multiple cues by this wasp guarantees such a high rate of predation on endophytic beetles that the wasp may have positive implications (reduction in weevils’ infestation) for the future of the host plant’s reproduction.

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