Research Summary: Multimodal Stimulation of Colorado Potato Beetle Reveals Modulation of Pheromone Response by Yellow Light
Orientation of insects to host plants and conspecifics is the result of detection and integration of chemical and physical cues present in the environment. Sensory organs have evolved to be sensitive to important signals, providing neural input for higher order multimodal processing and behavioral output. Here we report experiments to determine decisions made by Colorado potato beetle (CPB), Leptinotarsa decemlineata, in response to isolated stimuli and multimodal combinations of signals on a locomotion compensator. Our results show that in complete darkness and in the absence of other stimuli, pheromonal stimulation increases attraction behavior of CPB as measured in oriented displacement and walking speed. However, orientation to the pheromone is abolished when presented with the alternative stimulation of a low intensity yellow light in a dark environment. The ability of the pheromone to stimulate these diurnal beetles in the dark in the absence of other stimuli is an unexpected but interesting observation. The predominance of the phototactic response over that to pheromone when low intensity lights were offered as choices seems to confirm the diurnal nature of the insect. The biological significance of the response to pheromone in the dark is unclear. The phototactic response will play a key role in elucidating multimodal stimulation in the host-finding process of CPB, and perhaps other insects. Such information might be exploited in the design of applications to attract and trap CPB for survey or control purposes and other insect pests using similar orientation mechanisms.