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Open AccessArticle

Behavioral and Electrophysiological Responses of the Fringed Larder Beetle Dermestes frischii to the Smell of a Cadaver at Different Decomposition Stages

Gembloux Agro-Bio Tech, TERRA, University of Liège, Passage des Déportés 2, 5030 Gembloux, Belgium
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Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
These authors contributed equally to this work.
Insects 2020, 11(4), 238; https://doi.org/10.3390/insects11040238
Received: 26 March 2020 / Revised: 9 April 2020 / Accepted: 9 April 2020 / Published: 10 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forensic Entomology: 2020 and Beyond)
A cadaver is colonized by a wide diversity of necrophagous insects. It is well documented that Dipterans are attracted by the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) released by a corpse during the first minutes following death. Coleopterans are known to be attracted by highly decomposed cadavers, but have received less attention regarding the olfaction-based mechanisms underlying these interactions. In the present study, we impregnated gauzes with VOCs collected from each decomposition stage of dead rats: fresh, bloated, active, and advanced decay. We collected the VOCs released by the gauze and confirmed what was previously know from the literature: the decomposition stages are associated with contrasting chemical profiles. We exposed Dermestes frischii Kugelann (Coleoptera: Dermestidae) male and female antennae to the same gauzes and found that stronger electrical responses were recorded when using the smell of the advanced decay stage. Finally, we performed two choices behavioral assays. Females showed no preference for the four decomposition stages, while males were attracted by the smell associated with active and advanced decay stages. These results suggest that specific VOCs released by a decaying body guide necrophagous coleopterans to their feeding site. Whether D. frischii males release pheromones to attract females remains to be tested. View Full-Text
Keywords: Dermestidae; electrophysiology; forensic entomology; necrophagous coleopteran Dermestidae; electrophysiology; forensic entomology; necrophagous coleopteran
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Martin, C.; Minchilli, D.; Francis, F.; Verheggen, F. Behavioral and Electrophysiological Responses of the Fringed Larder Beetle Dermestes frischii to the Smell of a Cadaver at Different Decomposition Stages. Insects 2020, 11, 238.

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