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Acoustic orientation of a parasitoid fly
Okanagana rimosa is a common cicada of wooded habitats in Northern Michigan including areas close to the Biological Station. Males of the cicada O. rimosa produce calling sounds to attract female cicadas for reproduction. This signal is uniquely overheard by the parasitoid fly Emblemasoma auditrix. The female fly locates the cicada by the signal and infests the male with a larva. The larva feeds inside the cicada and eventually kills it. The research project focuses on the sensory ecology of both species in respect their auditory orientation capabilities. Besides the biological interaction of both species, the acoustic orientation capabilities are of high interest. The fly, as well as the female cicada, have to be able to locate the male cicada in a three-dimensional space. Almost nothing is known about possible mechanisms for this acoustic orientation. Therefore field experiments should give a first indication about the process. Field experiments are uniquely possible in the habitats near the Biological Station. The field experiments are accompanied by phonotaxis tests in the laboratory.