“Maternal determination of progeny body size and coloration in the desert locust, Schistocerca gregaria, depends on the crowding conditions experienced during the short sensitive period that occurs two to six days before the deposition of the egg pod. Solitarious (isolated-reared) females produce relatively small eggs that yield solitarious green hatchlings but, females that are exposed to crowded conditions during the sensitive period, produce larger eggs that yield the dark-colored hatchlings characteristic of gregarious forms. The present study aimed to determine the stimuli influencing the maternal determination of progeny characteristics as well as the site at which such stimuli are perceived. By exposing isolated female adults to various combinations of visual, olfactory and tactile stimuli from a crowd of other adults, we found that no crowding effects could be elicited without tactile stimulation. Coating of various body surfaces with nail polish followed by exposure to crowding stimulation suggested that female adults perceive crowding stimuli with their antennae. This finding was supported by another experiment in which the antennae were either removed or covered with wax before the isolated females were exposed to crowded conditions. Neither serotonin nor an antagonist of its receptor affected the density-dependent maternal determination of progeny characteristics when injected into isolated or crowded female adults.”
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