Effects of size and fluctuating asymmetry on field fitness of the parasitoid Trichogramma carverae (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae)



1.  The effects of body size and asymmetry in morphological traits on field fitness were studied in the parasitoid Trichogramma carverae.

2.  Significant fluctuating asymmetry was detected in four bristle counts and two wing measurements made on forewings. There was no evidence for directional asymmetry in any of the traits. An estimate of field fitness was obtained in grapevines by collecting released wasps arriving at oviposition sites consisting of egg rafts of the tortricid Epiphyas postvittana.

3.  Comparisons of ovipositing and emergence samples indicated that wasps at oviposition sites were relatively larger and more variable in their size distribution. A non-parametric analysis of the relationship between fitness and size indicated that extremely large wasps had the highest fitness and suggested that small as well as large wasps may have had a fitness advantage.

4.  For asymmetry, the only trait showing an association with field fitness was wing length. Wasps with a low length asymmetry were more likely to be collected at oviposition sites, although fitness curves indicated that wasps had a similar fitness once an intermediate length asymmetry was exceeded.

5.  Mother–daughter comparisons for wasps from a genetically heterogeneous stock provided no evidence that size measures or asymmetries were heritable when wasps were reared on a factitious host.

6.  These findings have implications for improving parasitism rates in inundative releases.