The Importance of Stimulus Patterns for Host-Plant Recognition and Acceptance

  • V. G. Dethier


Studies of lepidopterous larvae have indicated that at least for these plant feeding insects host-plant recognition and acceptance are based upon complex mixed olfactory and gustatory sensory information. Although a particular compound or category of compounds may dominate the chemical composition of a plant and may contribute the major sensory cue, it is the total chemical complex that forms the basis for perception. The receptor cells that are responsive to the vapors and solutions of which the plant consists are not narrowly specific in their sensitivities. Accordingly they transmit to the central nervous system a vast amount of information that forms the basis for central integration. Thus caterpillars are able to appreciate “flavor” in an analogous way that vertebrates sense it. Electrophysiological studies of the olfactory and gustatory receptors of several species of caterpillars, especially Danaus plexippusspecies of Papilio, and Malacosoma americana indicate that these receptors are sensitive to a very wide variety of plants both within and without the normal host range. This paper is concerned primarily with electrophysiological responses of olfactory receptors to natural plant odors.


Olfactory Receptor Sign Stimulus Volatile Emanation Electrophysiological Response Lepidopterous Larva 
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Copyright information

© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. G. Dethier
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologyPrinceton UniversityPrincetonUSA

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