Dispersal of Early Instars of the Mole Cricket, Scapteriscus tenuis, as a function of density, food, and pathogens (Orthoptera: Gryllotalpidae)
Fowler, Harold G.
The tendency of the N2 instar of Scapteriscus tenuis Scudder 1899 to disperse varies with density, food availability, and the presence of pathogens, Metarhizium ansiopliae. In laboratory experiments, dispersal was greatest from high density areas, and due to the presence of Metarhizium. Food availability inhibited dispersal. These behavioral responses of juvenile mole crickets are advantageous in natural situations by maximizing food intake, minimizing the risks of cannibalism, and avoiding potential high concentrations of fungal spores. However, as these insects only respond to Metarhizium after contact, they may transport this pathogen from one area to another while the fungus incubates in the dispersing insect. It is possible that a higher dispersal tendency found in the pathogen experiments is due to behavioral changes induced by the fungus.