Auditory behaviour of a parasitoid fly (Emblemasoma auditrix, Sarcophagidae, Diptera)

TitleAuditory behaviour of a parasitoid fly (Emblemasoma auditrix, Sarcophagidae, Diptera)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsKohler U, Lakes-Harlan R
JournalJournal of Comparative Physiology A

Females of the parasitoid fly Emblemasoma auditrix find their host cicada (Okanagana rimosa) by its acoustic signals. In laboratory experiments, fly phonotaxis had a mean threshold of about 66 dB SPL when tested with the cicada calling song. Flies exhibited a frequency dependent phonotaxis when testing to song models with different carrier frequencies (pulses of 6 ms duration and a repitition rate of 80 pulses/s). However, the phonotactic threshold was rather broadly tuned in the range from 5 kHz to 11 kHz. Phonotaxis was also dependent on the temporal parameters of the song models: repetition rates of 60 pulses/s and 80 pulses/s and pulse durations of 5-7 ms resulted in the highest percentages of phonotaxis performing animals coupled with the lowest threshold values. Thus, parasitoid phonotaxis is adapted especially to the temporal parameters of the calling song of the host. Choice experiments revealed a preference of a song model with 9 kHz carrier frequency (peak energy of the host song) compared with 5 kHz carrier frequency (electrophysiologically determined best hearing frequency). However, this preference changed with the relative sound pressure level of both signals. When presented simultaneously, E. auditrix preferred 5-kHz signals, if they were 5 dB SPL louder than the 9-kHz signal.