As a result of the increased potential for disease transmission, insects are predicted to show an increased constitutive immunity when crowded. Cannibalistic aggressive interactions further increase the risk of wounding and pathogen transmission in crowds. Nymphal Mormon crickets Anabrus simplex Haldeman were collected in Montana and reared in the laboratory either solitarily or at densities similar to that experienced by Mormon crickets in migratory bands. As teneral adults, solitarily-reared Mormon crickets tended to have greater phenoloxidase activity than those reared in groups. Sampling enzyme activity a second time when the adults were nearing reproductive maturity, group-reared Mormon crickets had elevated levels of prophenoloxidase and encapsulated foreign objects faster than solitarily-reared insects. Rearing density did not have a significant effect on either the darkness of the cuticle or antibacterial activity. This is the first report of age-related responses of adult insect immunity to crowding.
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Vol. 41 • No. 1