Forewarned is forearmed: Queensland fruit flies detect olfactory cues from predators and respond with predator-specific behaviour

Vivek Kempraj*, Soo Jean Park, Phillip W. Taylor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Animals can gain significant advantages from abilities to detect cues from predators, assess risks, and respond adaptively to reduce the likelihood of injurious interactions. In contrast, predator cue-induced changes in behaviour may interfere with fitness-associated activities such as exploration, foraging and reproduction. Despite the ecological importance of predator-prey interactions in insects, remarkably little is known about the abilities of insects to detect and respond to olfactory cues from predators, or the potential costs of such responses. We here demonstrate that a tephritid fruit fly, the Queensland fruit fly Bactrocera tryoni, is able to detect and respond differentially to volatile olfactory cues from four potential predators (three spiders and an ant) that vary in prevalence and diurnal activity. Male and female flies increased or decreased motility (velocity, active time, distance moved), or exhibited no change in motility, depending on which predator volatiles they encountered. Further, flies significantly reduced foraging, oviposition and mating propensity in the presence of volatiles from any of the predators. This study is the first report of predator-specific responses to olfactory cues in a tephritid fruit fly, and highlights that such anti-predator responses can impose costs on general activity and reproductive behaviour.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7297
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Apr 2020

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


Dive into the research topics of 'Forewarned is forearmed: Queensland fruit flies detect olfactory cues from predators and respond with predator-specific behaviour'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • ITTC for Fruit Fly Biosecurity Innovation (ARC)

    Taylor, P., Clarke, A., Riegler, M., Kemp, D., Ponton, F., Cameron, S., Schutze, M., Cook, J., Papanicolaou, A., Dominiak, B., Jessup, A., Reynolds, O., Suckling, M., El Sayad, A., Mas, F., Royer, J., Schellhorn, N., Macfadyen, S., Wilson, C., MQRES Inter Tuition Fee only 2, M. I. T. F. O. 2. & MQRES Inter Tuition Fee only, M. I. T. F. O.

    27/06/16 → …

    Project: Research

Cite this