Life History of the Hyperparasitoid Mesochorus discitergus (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) and Tactics Used to Overcome the Defensive Behavior of the Green Cloverworm (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

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Abstract:

Mesochorus discitergus (Say) is an endogenous, solitary hyperparasitoid with a broad range of hosts. Its developmental period from oviposition to adult emergence with Cotesia marginiventris (Cresson) as its host ranged from about 16 d at 27°C to about 25 d at 21°C. When hyperparasitism occurred 3 d after primary parasitism, the first two instars developed within the C. marginiventris larva, and the third instar developed within the C. marginiventris larva and pupa. Hyperparasitoid pupation occurred within the cocoon spun by the primary parasitoid. M. discitergus must overcome the defensive responses of green cloverworm larvae to oviposit in larval primary parasitoids located inside the caterpillars. Young green cloverworm larvae often drop when disturbed and hang from foliage on silken threads. To capture a young (second instar) caterpillar, the hyperparasitoid usually hangs by its hind tarsi from the edge of the leaf from which the larva is suspended and reels in the caterpillar by pulling upward on the caterpillar's silken thread. Capturing suspended third and fourth instars often requires that the parasitoid walk part or all the way down the thread toward the caterpillar. By probing briefly with the ovipositor, hyperparasitoid females distinguish between green cloverworms parasitized by C. marginiventris and those that are unparasitized. Unparasitized larvae are quickly rejected (x¯ = 5.0 s), whereas parasitized green cloverworms are held and probed longer (x¯ = 83.4 s).

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 1989

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  • Annals of the Entomological Society of America is published in January, March, May, July, September, and November. Annals especially invites submission of manuscripts that integrate different areas of insect biology, and address issues that are likely to be of broad relevance to entomologists. Articles also report on basic aspects of the biology of arthropods, divided into categories by subject matter: systematics; ecology and population biology; arthropod biology; arthropods in relation to plant diseases; conservation biology and biodiversity; physiology, biochemistry, and toxicology; morphology, histology, and fine structure; genetics; and behavior.
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