Stripes disrupt odour attractiveness to biting horseflies: Battle between ammonia, CO2, and colour pattern for dominance in the sensory systems of host-seeking tabanids

Miklós Blahó, Ádám Egri, Dénes Száz, G. Kriska, Susanne Åkesson, Gábor Horváth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

As with mosquitoes, female tabanid flies search for mammalian hosts by visual and olfactory cues, because they require a blood meal before being able to produce and lay eggs. Polarotactic tabanid flies find striped or spotted patterns with intensity and/or polarisation modulation visually less attractive than homogeneous white, brown or black targets. Thus, this reduced optical attractiveness to tabanids can be one of the functions of striped or spotty coat patterns in ungulates. Ungulates emit CO2 via their breath, while ammonia originates from their decaying urine. As host-seeking female tabanids are strongly attracted to CO2 and ammonia, the question arises whether the poor visual attractiveness of stripes and spots to tabanids is or is not overcome by olfactory attractiveness. To answer this question we performed two field experiments in which the attractiveness to tabanid flies of homogeneous white, black and black-and-white striped three-dimensional targets (spheres and cylinders) and horse models provided with CO2 and ammonia was studied. Since tabanids are positively polarotactic, i.e. attracted to strongly and linearly polarised light, we measured the reflection-polarisation patterns of the test surfaces and demonstrated that these patterns were practically the same as those of real horses and zebras. We show here that striped targets are significantly less attractive to host-seeking female tabanids than homogeneous white or black targets, even when they emit tabanid-luring CO2 and ammonia. Although CO2 and ammonia increased the number of attracted tabanids, these chemicals did not overcome the weak visual attractiveness of stripes to host-seeking female tabanids. This result demonstrates the visual protection of striped coat patterns against attacks from blood-sucking dipterans, such as horseflies, known to transmit lethal diseases to ungulates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-174
Number of pages7
JournalPhysiology and Behavior
Volume119
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2 2013

Fingerprint

Ammonia
Color
Diptera
Horses
Equidae
Culicidae
Eggs
Cues
Meals
Odorants
Attractiveness
Urine
Light
hydroquinone
Blood
Horse
Polarization

Keywords

  • Ammonia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • Horsefly
  • Olfactory cues
  • Parasite protection
  • Polarisation vision
  • Polarotaxis
  • Striped pattern
  • Tabanid fly
  • Visual ecology
  • Zebra

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Philosophy

Cite this

Stripes disrupt odour attractiveness to biting horseflies : Battle between ammonia, CO2, and colour pattern for dominance in the sensory systems of host-seeking tabanids. / Blahó, Miklós; Egri, Ádám; Száz, Dénes; Kriska, G.; Åkesson, Susanne; Horváth, Gábor.

In: Physiology and Behavior, Vol. 119, 02.07.2013, p. 168-174.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

@article{bdcedc4ebc2641bbb40592e34d4a3b1e,
title = "Stripes disrupt odour attractiveness to biting horseflies: Battle between ammonia, CO2, and colour pattern for dominance in the sensory systems of host-seeking tabanids",
abstract = "As with mosquitoes, female tabanid flies search for mammalian hosts by visual and olfactory cues, because they require a blood meal before being able to produce and lay eggs. Polarotactic tabanid flies find striped or spotted patterns with intensity and/or polarisation modulation visually less attractive than homogeneous white, brown or black targets. Thus, this reduced optical attractiveness to tabanids can be one of the functions of striped or spotty coat patterns in ungulates. Ungulates emit CO2 via their breath, while ammonia originates from their decaying urine. As host-seeking female tabanids are strongly attracted to CO2 and ammonia, the question arises whether the poor visual attractiveness of stripes and spots to tabanids is or is not overcome by olfactory attractiveness. To answer this question we performed two field experiments in which the attractiveness to tabanid flies of homogeneous white, black and black-and-white striped three-dimensional targets (spheres and cylinders) and horse models provided with CO2 and ammonia was studied. Since tabanids are positively polarotactic, i.e. attracted to strongly and linearly polarised light, we measured the reflection-polarisation patterns of the test surfaces and demonstrated that these patterns were practically the same as those of real horses and zebras. We show here that striped targets are significantly less attractive to host-seeking female tabanids than homogeneous white or black targets, even when they emit tabanid-luring CO2 and ammonia. Although CO2 and ammonia increased the number of attracted tabanids, these chemicals did not overcome the weak visual attractiveness of stripes to host-seeking female tabanids. This result demonstrates the visual protection of striped coat patterns against attacks from blood-sucking dipterans, such as horseflies, known to transmit lethal diseases to ungulates.",
keywords = "Ammonia, Carbon dioxide, Horsefly, Olfactory cues, Parasite protection, Polarisation vision, Polarotaxis, Striped pattern, Tabanid fly, Visual ecology, Zebra",
author = "Mikl{\'o}s Blah{\'o} and {\'A}d{\'a}m Egri and D{\'e}nes Sz{\'a}z and G. Kriska and Susanne {\AA}kesson and G{\'a}bor Horv{\'a}th",
year = "2013",
month = "7",
day = "2",
doi = "10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.06.013",
language = "English",
volume = "119",
pages = "168--174",
journal = "Physiology and Behavior",
issn = "0031-9384",
publisher = "Elsevier Inc.",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Stripes disrupt odour attractiveness to biting horseflies

T2 - Battle between ammonia, CO2, and colour pattern for dominance in the sensory systems of host-seeking tabanids

AU - Blahó, Miklós

AU - Egri, Ádám

AU - Száz, Dénes

AU - Kriska, G.

AU - Åkesson, Susanne

AU - Horváth, Gábor

PY - 2013/7/2

Y1 - 2013/7/2

N2 - As with mosquitoes, female tabanid flies search for mammalian hosts by visual and olfactory cues, because they require a blood meal before being able to produce and lay eggs. Polarotactic tabanid flies find striped or spotted patterns with intensity and/or polarisation modulation visually less attractive than homogeneous white, brown or black targets. Thus, this reduced optical attractiveness to tabanids can be one of the functions of striped or spotty coat patterns in ungulates. Ungulates emit CO2 via their breath, while ammonia originates from their decaying urine. As host-seeking female tabanids are strongly attracted to CO2 and ammonia, the question arises whether the poor visual attractiveness of stripes and spots to tabanids is or is not overcome by olfactory attractiveness. To answer this question we performed two field experiments in which the attractiveness to tabanid flies of homogeneous white, black and black-and-white striped three-dimensional targets (spheres and cylinders) and horse models provided with CO2 and ammonia was studied. Since tabanids are positively polarotactic, i.e. attracted to strongly and linearly polarised light, we measured the reflection-polarisation patterns of the test surfaces and demonstrated that these patterns were practically the same as those of real horses and zebras. We show here that striped targets are significantly less attractive to host-seeking female tabanids than homogeneous white or black targets, even when they emit tabanid-luring CO2 and ammonia. Although CO2 and ammonia increased the number of attracted tabanids, these chemicals did not overcome the weak visual attractiveness of stripes to host-seeking female tabanids. This result demonstrates the visual protection of striped coat patterns against attacks from blood-sucking dipterans, such as horseflies, known to transmit lethal diseases to ungulates.

AB - As with mosquitoes, female tabanid flies search for mammalian hosts by visual and olfactory cues, because they require a blood meal before being able to produce and lay eggs. Polarotactic tabanid flies find striped or spotted patterns with intensity and/or polarisation modulation visually less attractive than homogeneous white, brown or black targets. Thus, this reduced optical attractiveness to tabanids can be one of the functions of striped or spotty coat patterns in ungulates. Ungulates emit CO2 via their breath, while ammonia originates from their decaying urine. As host-seeking female tabanids are strongly attracted to CO2 and ammonia, the question arises whether the poor visual attractiveness of stripes and spots to tabanids is or is not overcome by olfactory attractiveness. To answer this question we performed two field experiments in which the attractiveness to tabanid flies of homogeneous white, black and black-and-white striped three-dimensional targets (spheres and cylinders) and horse models provided with CO2 and ammonia was studied. Since tabanids are positively polarotactic, i.e. attracted to strongly and linearly polarised light, we measured the reflection-polarisation patterns of the test surfaces and demonstrated that these patterns were practically the same as those of real horses and zebras. We show here that striped targets are significantly less attractive to host-seeking female tabanids than homogeneous white or black targets, even when they emit tabanid-luring CO2 and ammonia. Although CO2 and ammonia increased the number of attracted tabanids, these chemicals did not overcome the weak visual attractiveness of stripes to host-seeking female tabanids. This result demonstrates the visual protection of striped coat patterns against attacks from blood-sucking dipterans, such as horseflies, known to transmit lethal diseases to ungulates.

KW - Ammonia

KW - Carbon dioxide

KW - Horsefly

KW - Olfactory cues

KW - Parasite protection

KW - Polarisation vision

KW - Polarotaxis

KW - Striped pattern

KW - Tabanid fly

KW - Visual ecology

KW - Zebra

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=84880402503&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=84880402503&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.06.013

DO - 10.1016/j.physbeh.2013.06.013

M3 - Article

C2 - 23810990

AN - SCOPUS:84880402503

VL - 119

SP - 168

EP - 174

JO - Physiology and Behavior

JF - Physiology and Behavior

SN - 0031-9384

ER -