Faeces’ odours attract gregarious locust hoppers - INRAE - Institut national de recherche pour l’agriculture, l’alimentation et l’environnement Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Insect Physiology Year : 2022

Faeces’ odours attract gregarious locust hoppers


Highlights: • We hypothesize that attraction to fresh faeces enhance locust hopper band cohesion. • We exposed third instar hoppers of desert locust to faeces odours of different ages. • We observed an attraction of faeces explained by 11 volatile organic compounds. • Latecomers could get back to the band following faeces’ odours after 24 h. Abstract: Collective motion is one of the most impressive common features of gregarious locusts: once formed, bands and swarms get moving for long distances. It was shown that visual perception of neighbours plays a key role in maintaining marching behaviour at a local scale. But at a larger scale, mechanisms underlying band cohesion are less understood. It was shown in several field studies that individuals separated from the band were able to get back to the group, even after being separated since a night. In this context, faeces’ odours could be a possible indicator of the recent passage of a group. In this study, we tested if nymphs are attracted by faeces’ odours and if this effect is modulated by the age of the faeces. To this end, we conducted individual olfactometric behavioural assays of instar hoppers of desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, exposed to odours of 1 h-old and 24 h-old faeces. We also used Gas Chromatography-Mass Spectrometry (GC–MS) to identify odours’ volatile organic compounds from faeces. The results of behavioural assays indicated a strong attractive effect of faeces, with no preference for one of the two faecal age classes. Nymphs spent significantly more time in the side of the olfactometer where the faeces’ odours came from, and 72.7% of tested individuals chose this side first. We filtered and annotated 11 volatile organic compounds present in both fresh and old faeces in GC–MS analyses, including guaiacol and phenol, which are known to cause an aggregative effect on desert locusts. As the attractive effect lasted over 24 h, band’s faeces could still have an attractive effect when individuals are separated from the band since one day. In this situation, latecomers individuals would be able to get back to the group by following the traces of their predecessors.
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Dates and versions

hal-03969210 , version 1 (08-06-2023)



Camille Vernier, Nicolas Barthes, Marie-Pierre Chapuis, Julien Foucaud, Joris Huguenin, et al.. Faeces’ odours attract gregarious locust hoppers. Journal of Insect Physiology, 2022, 143, pp.104454. ⟨10.1016/j.jinsphys.2022.104454⟩. ⟨hal-03969210⟩
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