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Discrimination between parasitised and unparasitised hosts in the parasitic wasp Pseudeucoila bochei: a matter of learning


THE female of the parasitic wasp Pseudeucoila bochei (Hymenoptera : Cynipidae) lays her eggs in larvae of different Drosophila species, and only one parasite emerges from each host. The parasite is able to discriminate between parasitised and unparasitised host larvae1, but this ability does not completely prevent super-parasitisation. On investigating the probable causes of super-parasitisation, we discovered that the female wasp has to learn to discriminate, learning being that process which manifests itself by adaptive changes in individual behaviour as a result of experience2.

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  1. 1

    Bakker, K., Eijsackers, H. J. P., van Lenteren, J. C., and Meelis, E., Oecologia (Berl.), 10, 29–57 (1972).

  2. 2

    Thorpe, W. H., Learning and Instinct in Animals (Methuen, London, 1956).

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