Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Karen M. Kester


Prior exposure to plants cues can enhance assortative mating in insects. We hypothesized that, as previously reported for females, males of Cotesia congregata would display inherent responses to plant cues that could be modified by postemergence experience and further, that males originating from two different host-plant complexes (HPCs) would display different behavioral responses to these HPCs. In no-choice contact assays with a non-host plant, searching responses of males and females increased sharply at Day 2 and remained stable through Day 4. In no-choice assays with potential host plants, males searched longer on catalpa than tobacco; responses were not modified by postemergence experience. In choice assays with both HPCs, naïve males did not display orientation preferences; however, males experienced with their natal plant preferred their natal HPC. Results indicate that postemergence experience on the natal host plant induces an orientation preference for the natal HPC and thus, can facilitate assortative mating.


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Available for download on Wednesday, May 06, 2020