Eur. J. Entomol. 108 (4): 565-573, 2011 | 10.14411/eje.2011.073

Two ways of finding a host: A specialist and a generalist parasitoid species (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea: Pteromalidae)

Ralph S. PETERS
Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany; e-mail: r.peters@zfmk.de

Two closely related parasitoid wasp species with different host specificities were used for experimental studies on the biology of host finding, a crucial element of parasitoid life history: The habitat and host specialist Nasonia vitripennis and the habitat and host generalist Dibrachys microgastri (Chalcidoidea: Pteromalidae). The host finding parameters tested included reaction to olfactory cues, aspects of locomotor activity, ability to locate hidden hosts and day-night-activity. The results revealed distinct interspecific differences that match the respective host and habitat ranges of the two species. In N. vitripennis host finding is dominated by olfactory reaction to hosts and host habitat, i.e., fly puparia and birds' nests. In D. microgastri olfactory cues have only a minor role. Its host finding is characterized by rapid searching at random. Both species are able to locate hidden hosts. Although still incomplete, these insights into host finding by two parasitoid species with different life history strategies indicate they can be characterized by specific combinations of behavioural host finding features.

Keywords: Hymenoptera, Chalcidoidea, Pteromalidae, Nasonia vitripennis, Dibrachys microgastri, parasitic wasps, specialist, generalist, locomotor activity, laboratory experiments, parasitoid life history traits, host finding, olfactory cues

Received: April 14, 2011; Accepted: July 12, 2011; Published: October 3, 2011

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