Author(s): Simpson SJ, Despland E, Hgele BF, Dodgson T
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Abstract Desert locusts in the solitarious phase were repeatedly touched on various body regions to identify the site of mechanosensory input that elicits the transition to gregarious phase behavior. The phase state of individual insects was measured after a 4-h period of localized mechanical stimulation, by using a behavioral assay based on multiple logistic regression analysis. A significant switch from solitarious to gregarious behavior occurred when the outer face of a hind femur had been stimulated, but mechanical stimulation of 10 other body regions did not result in significant behavioral change. We conclude that a primary cause of the switch in behavior that seeds the formation of locust swarms is individuals regularly touching others on the hind legs within populations that have become concentrated by the environment.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research