Self-host discrimination by a parasitic wasp: The role of short-term memory

Takatoshi Ueno, Toshiharu Tanaka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Citations (Scopus)


Ovipositing parasitoid wasps deposit marking pheromones on the host that deter conspecifics from superparasitism. In addition to recognizing previously parasitized hosts, female wasps of some species discriminate between hosts parasitized by themselves and by conspecifics (self host discrimination). The mechanism of self-host discrimination in the parasitic wasp Pimpla nipponica Uchida was examined. A series of experiments, however, failed to show that females of this species deposit chemical markers on a host during oviposition. Females failed to recognize hosts covered either with pieces of cocoon derived from, or plastic tubes used to conceal, hosts they had previously parasitized. They also recognized hosts that had been superparasitized by conspecifics. Two further experiments supported an alternative hypothesis, that females remember hosts they have parasitized before. Rejection of the first parasitized host decreased markedly after females had attacked two or three hosts, and females cooled to induce amnesia failed to recognize self-parasitized hosts. It is suggested that hosts could smell different enough for a female wasp to discriminate between self- and conspecifically parasitized hosts. The role of short-term memory in the foraging strategies of parasitoid wasps is discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)875-883
Number of pages9
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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