Effects of specialist parasitoids on oviposition preference of phytophagous insects: encounter–dilution effects in a tritrophic interaction


*Dr J. Takabayashi, Center for Ecological Research, Kyoto University, Otsuka 509-3, Hirano, Kamitanakami, Otsu 520-2113, Japan. E-mail: junji@ecology.kyoto-u.ac.jp


Abstract.  1. Host plant preferences of the female diamondback moth Plutella xylostella were studied.

2. Female moths preferred conspecific-damaged cabbage plants over undamaged cabbage plants. The performance of P. xylostella larvae on conspecific-infested plants did not differ significantly from that of larvae on undamaged plants.

3. Cotesia plutellae, the specialist parasitoid wasp of P. xylostella larvae, displayed equal preference for plants with differing levels of host-larvae damage, and the wasp attacked only one or two hosts on average before leaving an infested plant, irrespective of the number of hosts on the plant. It is hypothesised that the oviposition preferences of P. xylostella females for host plants already damaged by conspecific larvae demonstrate an encounter–dilution effect against C. plutellae.