Exploitation of the Host’s Chemical Communication in a Parasitoid Searching for Concealed Host Larvae


Corresponding author: T. S. Hoffmeister, Zoologisches Institut, Ökologie, Christian-Albrechts-Universität Kiel, D-24098 Kiel, Germany. E-mail: thoffmeister @zoologie.uni-kiel.de


We found empirical evidence for the exploitation of the host’s chemical communication in a parasitic wasp foraging for a concealed host. Female Halticoptera laevigata wasps (Hym., Pteromalidae) searched longer and probed more frequently on honeysuckle fruit that carried fresh marking pheromone or harbored a first instar larva of its host, the tephritid fruit fly, Myoleja lucida. They further increased their searching efforts on fruits that provided both host-related cues. While the exploitation of host marking pheromones for host location had previously been shown in two parasitoid species attacking the eggs of their tephritid hosts, this is the first evidence for the exploitation of a host’s marking pheromone in a parasitoid attacking the larvae of an herbivorous host. Taking into account the time interval between application of host marking pheromones and parasitoid attack plus the fact that these pheromones are generally water soluble and thus might be washed off by rains, we discuss the reliability-detectability problem for the exploitation of those cues for host location in parasitoids attacking a larval host.