Many adult parasitoids feed on host insects, a behavior known as host-feeding. Feeding on hosts is essential to maximizing female fecundity, but its contribution to reproduction varies from species to species. The relationship between fecundity and host-feeding was examined in the solitary endoparasitoid wasp Itoplectis naranyae Ashmead, (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) to assess the significance of host-feeding in female reproduction. Adult female wasps did not respond to hosts when they were 0-1 days old, but subsequently increased their oviposition and host-feeding activities with increasing female age. While newly emerging females had no mature eggs in their ovary, the number of mature eggs increased rapidly thereafter, a process termed synovigeny. Female wasps were capable of maturing eggs without host-feeding, and this suggested that they produced a certain portion of eggs from nutritional reserves that had been stored during the larval stage. Behavioral observations revealed that I. naranyae was a destructive host-feeder as the host was damaged during feeding. Female fecundity was greater in females that had previously fed on hosts than those did not, indicating that host-feeding was involved in egg production. There was a time-delayed relation between host-feeding events and additional egg production; at least 3 days were required to mature eggs from nutrients gained via feeding on hosts. The significance of host-feeding in I. naranyae reproduction is discussed in the context of its life history traits.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science