Vibratory territorial signals in caterpillars of the poplar lutestring, Tethea or (Lepidoptera: Drepanidae)
Caterpillars of the poplar lutestring moth, Tethea or, construct leaf shelters that they defend against intruding conspecifics using a combination of vibratory signals and physical aggression. Staged interactions between a resident caterpillar and introduced conspecific were recorded with a video camera and laser vibrometer. Residents crawl towards the intruder and perform three behaviours: lateral hitting, pushing, and mandible scraping. Vibrations caused by mandible scraping result from the caterpillar repeatedly scraping opened mandibles laterally against the leaf surface in bouts lasting 1.16 ± 0.39 s, with an average of 4 ± 1 scrapes per bout. We propose that these scrapes function in leaf shelter defense against conspecifics for the following reasons: Mandible scrapes are produced only by residents; they are generated when a resident is approached by an intruder; the rate of scraping increases as the intruder approaches the shelter; and residents in all trials retain their shelters, with the intruder leaving the leaf within 127.9 ± 104.3 s from the beginning of the trial. The function and evolutionary origins of vibration-mediated territoriality in caterpillars are discussed.
|Keywords||Communication, Defense, Drepanidae, Larva, Leaf shelter, Mandible scraping, Territory, Tethea or, Thyatirinae, Vibration|
|Journal||European Journal of Entomology|
Scott, J.L. (Jaclyn L.), & Yack, J. (2012). Vibratory territorial signals in caterpillars of the poplar lutestring, Tethea or (Lepidoptera: Drepanidae). European Journal of Entomology, 109(3), 411–417.