The physiological properties of the ovipositor hair sensilla of the desert locust and their responses to wind and to direct mechanical displacement are described. The hairs on the external surfaces of the ventral and dorsal ovipositor valves respond to wind stimulation, whereas the hairs on the inner surfaces of the dorsal valves are not wind-sensitive. All ovipositor hairs, however, respond to tactile displacement. Imposed tactile stimulation reveals two physiologically distinct types of ovipositor tactile hairs: the hairs on the inner surface of the dorsal valves are high-threshold hairs (threshold angular deflection of 26­67 ° at 1 Hz) that respond phasically, whereas the hairs on the lateral and ventral areas of the ventral valves and the lateral areas of the dorsal valves are low-threshold hairs (threshold angular deflection of 6­20 ° at 1 Hz) that respond phasotonically. There is no apparent difference in the length of the two physiologically distinct types of hairs. Both high- and low-threshold hairs are directionally sensitive, with maximal responses to proximal deflection, towards the abdomen, and are also velocity-sensitive. High-threshold hairs have velocity thresholds of 40­50 ° s-1 for some hairs and 110­140 ° s-1 for others for a deflection angle of 35 °, whereas low-threshold hairs have lower velocity thresholds of less than 5 ° s-1 for the same deflection. High-threshold hairs adapt rapidly to repetitive stimulation after as few as four cycles of stimulation at 0.5 Hz. Low-threshold hairs continue to respond after 40 cycles of stimulation at 0.5 Hz and show little adaptation to repetitive stimulation at frequencies ranging from 0.1 to 5 Hz. Low-threshold hairs respond with bursts of spikes at frequencies that reflect both the velocity and the duration of the stimulus. Furthermore, low-threshold hairs show little adaptation after 30 min of stimulation that simulates oviposition digging. It is suggested (a) that low- and high-threshold ovipositor hairs detect phasic wind and/or tactile stimuli in non-ovipositing locusts and (b) that low-threshold hairs can also signal rhythmic tactile inputs during oviposition digging.

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