The effect of electrostatic stimuli on German cockroach behaviour

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German cockroach, Blattella germanica, electric fields, electro-communication, attraction/arrestment, courtship

Some insects reportedly associate with electrical circuits while others avoid electric fields. This thesis presents evidence that electrical circuits modify the behaviour of several insects, attracting or arresting Blattella germanica, Supella longipalpa, Lepisma saccharina, Thermobia domestica and Forficula auricularia, and repelling Periplaneta americana. Based on extensive experimentation, it appears that primarily the electric component of electromagnetic fields contributes to the attraction and/or arrestment response of B. germanica. Furthermore, I present evidence that B. germanica may utilise electro-communication. The evidence includes (1) the attraction of virgin males, but not mated males, virgin females or nymphs, to specific electromagnetic fields; (2) recordings of electrical pulses associated with insect presence; (3) greater incidence of electrical pulses in groups of females and males than in unisexual groups of males or females; and (4) exhibition of pre-copulatory wing raising behaviour by males exposed to electrical pulses as recorded from females and reproduced.

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Gerhard Gries
Science: Biological Sciences Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.P.M.