Many parasitoids discriminate previously parasitised hosts from unparasitised ones to avoid mortality of offspring. Parasitoids that parasitise aggressive hosts such as lepidopteran larvae are known to attack hosts very quickly to avoid being attacked. However, little is known about host discrimination of such quick attacking parasitoids. We investigated host discrimination of Microplitis demolitor (Wilkinson) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) a quick attacking parasitoid of Helicoverpa armigera (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Results showed that ratios of female wasps that rejected the hosts after antennal examination did not differ between parasitised and unparasitised hosts, indicating that M. demolitor did not discriminate hosts by antennal examination. However, 95% of females that inserted ovipositor into unparasitised hosts actually laid eggs, whereas it was only 31% for parasitised hosts, indicating that females discriminated hosts by oviposition insertion. Analyzing video recordings revealed that the ovipositor exploration of the host took 0.3 s. Female wasps that had experienced high-host density of unparasitised hosts readily rejected parasitised hosts, while wasps with experience of low host availability of parasitised hosts tended to accept parasitised hosts. This suggests that host discrimination behaviour of M. demolitor is affected by previous experience of different host availability and host quality.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agronomy and Crop Science
- Insect Science