“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.

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