Behavioural and electrophysiological responses of females of two species of tabanid to volatiles in urine of different mammals

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Urine volatiles from different ungulates (cows, horses and sheep) were tested as bait for tabanids in southeastern France using Nzi traps during the early summer of 2011. Tabanus bromius Linnaeus, 1758 and Atylotus quadrifarius (Loew, 1874) (both: Diptera: Tabanidae) were the most captured species, respectively representing 57% and 41% of all tabanids collected (all of which were female). Horse urine significantly increased catches of T. bromius (1.6-fold) and A. quadrifarius (3.5-fold), and sheep urine significantly increased catches of A. quadrifarius (2.5-fold). In parallel, an electroantennogram (EAG) study was conducted for the first time on these two species, in which EAGs were recorded using 1-octen-3-ol and extracts of the same urine samples used in the field. For T. bromius, the EAG response to 1-octen-3-ol increased quasi-sigmoidally with dose, with a maximum response at ≥100 μg on filter paper. For both species of tabanid, cow and horse urine elicited larger EAGs than did sheep urine. The behavioural implications in host-seeking and feeding habits are discussed.

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