Host Seeking for Plants

Elizabeth A. Bernays

University of Arizona

Plant-feeding insects may find their hosts by seeking appropriate habitats, by increases in activity that maximize the chances of encountering a plant, by completely random activity in combination with strong arrestant properties of the host, or by attraction to a plant from a distance by smell or vision or both. Often generalized plant odors are attractive, but commonly host-specific odors can be distinguished by specialist insects, and recently it has become known that most such insects are highly sensitive to one or a few host odors that are particularly attractive. Host color and shape can be important in plants with characteristic visual features and in insects that are day flying, although visually mediated responses are usually relatively unspecific.

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