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Annu Rev Entomol. 2003;48:29-50. Epub 2002 Jun 4.

Communication with substrate-borne signals in small plant-dwelling insects.

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Department of Invertebrate Physiology, National Institute of Biology, Vecna pot 111, P.O.Box 141, SI-1001 Ljubljana, Slovenia.


Vibratory signals of plant-dwelling insects, such as land bugs of the families Cydnidae and Pentatomidae, are produced mainly by stridulation and/or vibration of some body part. Signals emitted by the vibratory mechanisms have low-frequency characteristics with a relatively narrow frequency peak dominant around 100 Hz and differently expressed frequency modulation and higher harmonics. Such spectral characteristics are well tuned to the transmission properties of plants, and the low attenuation enables long-range communication on the same plant under standing wave conditions. Frequencies of stridulatory signals extend up to 10 kHz. In some groups, vibratory and stridulatory mechanisms may be used simultaneously to produce broadband signals. The subgenual organ, joint chordotonal organs, campaniform sensilla and mechanoreceptors, such as the Johnston's organ in antennae, are used to detect these vibratory signals. Species-specific songs facilitate mate location and recognition, and less species-specific signals provide information about enemies or rival mates.

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