Insects sense thermal cues mainly through thermoreceptors located in the antenna. To analyse the impact of antennectomy on the thermal behaviour of the haematophagous bug Triatoma infestans, we studied the distribution of intact and antennectomised bugs in an experimental arena where a temperature gradient was established, as well as the biting response of insects with and without antennae to objects at the temperature of a potential host. Antennectomy did not abolish thermopreference, but modified the temperature at which the insects preferred to stay. In the arena, antennectomised insects chose to remain at a higher temperature (ca. 3 °C higher in unfed bugs), and exhibited a larger dispersion around that preferred temperature, than intact bugs. In addition, ablated insects temporarily lost their ability to bite an object at the temperature of a potential host, but that ability was gradually recovered after the fifth day post-antennectomy. Results presented here show that thermoreceptors other than those located on the antennae can also guide thermal behaviours. We conclude that the function of antennal thermoreceptors can be taken over by other receptors located in different regions of the body. Those receptors have a different sensitivity and confer the insects with a different responsiveness.
Lorenzo Figueiras, A.N.; Flores, G.B.; Lazzari, C.R. The role of antennae in the thermopreference and biting response of haematophagous bugs. Journal of Insect Physiology (2013) 59 (12) 1194-1198. [DOI: 10.1016/j.jinsphys.2013.09.002]