Discrimination of the age of conspecific eggs by an ovipositing ectoparasitic wasp

Abstract : The recognition and avoidance of already parasitized hosts is a major issue in parasitoid behavioural ecology. A key factor affecting the fitness reward expected from superparasitism is the probability that the second or subsequent egg laid on a host will win the contest with the first-laid egg. The present study investigated the ability of females of the solitary ecto parasitoid Anisopteromalus calandrae Howard (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) to (i) discriminate between unparasitized Callosobruchus maculatus (Fabricius) (Coleoptera: Bruchidae) hosts and those parasitized by a conspecific, and (ii) discriminate between a host parasitized by an egg just laid (2 h) and one parasitized by an egg about to hatch (28 h). However, they did not adjust their offspring sex ratio on already parasitized hosts compared to unparasitized ones. Our results show that A. calandrae females can discriminate between parasitized and unparasitized hosts, as they lay more eggs on the latter. The probability of the second or subsequent egg laid on a host (superparasitism) winning the contest with a conspecific increases as the time between the two ovipositions decreases. Consequently, parasitoid females should lay more eggs on recently parasitized hosts than on those that have been parasitized for a long time (i.e., when the first eggs are about to hatch), and that is indeed what they were found to do. To increase their fitness in spite of the presence of already parasitized hosts, A. calandrae females have developed highly discriminative capacities regarding the parasitism status of hosts.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 3, 2009 - 5:51:39 PM
Last modification on : Friday, June 7, 2019 - 10:55:24 AM

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Sébastien Lebreton, Maureen Labarussias, Claude Chevrier, Éric Darrouzet. Discrimination of the age of conspecific eggs by an ovipositing ectoparasitic wasp. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, Wiley, 2009, pp.28-34. ⟨10.1111/j.1570-7458.2008.00790.x⟩. ⟨hal-00358592⟩

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