The influence of parasites on insect behaviour

Pedro Vale, Jonathon Siva-Jothy, Andre Morrill, Mark R. Forbes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In this chapter, we discuss insect behavioural responses to parasites. Dividing behaviours conceptually into those that occur before and after infection, we start by reviewing the evidence that insects identify and avoid potentially infectious environments to minimize negative consequences of infection. We then consider behavioural responses following infection according to their adaptive value to either the insect host or to the parasite. In one section, we cover sickness behaviours proposed to benefit the host by conserving energetic resources during infection; in another section, we discuss evidence for altered host behaviour as a parasite adaptation enhancing parasite survival or transmission. We briefly describe the mechanistic link between behaviour and immunity in insects, and provide a summary of methods and techniques becoming standard to studying behaviour of model insect species in the context of infection. We conclude the chapter by discussing future directions in the study of insect behavioural responses to parasites.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInsect Behavior
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Mechanisms to Ecological and Evolutionary Consequences
EditorsAlex Córdoba-Aguilar, Daniel González-Tokman, Isaac González-Santoyo
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780198797517, 9780198797500, 9780198797517
Publication statusPublished - 16 Aug 2018


  • Parasitism
  • Infection
  • Infection avoidance
  • Sickness behaviours
  • Manipulation
  • Lethargy
  • Anorexia
  • Grooming
  • Self-medication
  • Neuroendocrine-immune axis

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