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Virtual wasps' learning and behaviour


Trissolcus basalis (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) is an egg parasitoid(1) that recognizes kairomones left by its host Nezara viridula  (Heteroptera: Pentatomidae) as clues to find egg masses to attack. Recent experiments indicated that females of this wasp species are able to learn the features of their environment allowing them to adjust their foraging time on the patches of kairomones they are visiting, depending on whether host eggs are found or not. In order to assess the impact of such learning ability, a Monte Carlo, spatially-explicit, individual-based simulation model was elaborate to quantify the foraging efficiency of T. basalis females in different environments showing different levels of hosts richness and distribution.
In all environment tested, we compared the foraging efficiency of simulated T. basalis females being able to learn or not. In all cases, learning females visited a higher number of kairomone patches and attacked a higher number of hosts than non-learning females.

Authors : Guillaume Dauphin, Patrick Coquillard & Eric Wajnberg.

(1) An organism that lives at the expense of another (its host), impedes its growth and eventually kills it.

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