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Host location by the fruit fly parasitoid Diachasmimorpha krausii: role of fruit fly species, life stage and host plant

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Diachasmimorpha krausii is a braconid parasitoid of larval tephritid fruit flies, which feed cryptically within host fruit. At the ovipositor probing stage, the wasp cannot discriminate between hosts that are physiologically suitable or unsuitable for offspring development and must use other cues to locate suitable hosts.

To identify the cues used by the parasitoid to find suitable hosts, we offered, to free flying wasps, different combinations of three fruit fly species (Bactrocera tryoni, Bactrocera cacuminata, Bactrocera cucumis), different life stages of those flies (adults and larvae) and different host plants (Solanum lycopersicon, Solanum mauritianum, Cucurbita pepo). In the laboratory, the wasp will readily oviposit into larvae of all three flies but successfully develops only in B. tryoni. Bactrocera tryoni commonly infests S. lycopersicon (tomato), rarely S. mauritianum (wild tobacco) but never C. pepo (zucchini). The latter two plant species are common hosts for B. cacuminata and B. cucumis, respectively.

The parasitoid showed little or no response to uninfested plants of any of the test species. The presence of adult B. tryoni, however, increased parasitoid residency time on uninfested tomato.

When the three fruit types were all infested with larvae, parasitoid response was strongest to tomato, regardless of whether the larvae were physiologically suitable or unsuitable for offspring development. By contrast, zucchini was rarely visited by the wasp, even when infested with B. tryoni larvae.

Wild tobacco was infrequently visited when infested with B. cacuminata larvae but was more frequently visited, with greater parasitoid residency time and probing, when adult flies (either B. cacuminata or B. tryoni) were also present.

We conclude that herbivore‐induced, nonspecific host fruit wound volatiles were the major cue used by foraging D. krausii. Although positive orientation to infested host plants is well known from previous studies on opiine braconids, the failure of the wasp to orientate to some plants even when infested with physiologically suitable larvae, and the secondary role played by adult fruit flies in wasp host searching, are newly‐identified mechanisms that may aid parasitoid host location in environments where both physiologically suitable and unsuitable hosts occur.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2012


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