- Coping with unpredictability is crucial for insect parasitoids whose fitness depends on their ability to find hosts. One way to optimise their foraging behaviour is to glean information and to update the estimation of the habitat profitability through experience. Kairomone responsiveness (also called ‘motivation to stay’) is usually seen as a biological variable that reflects the initial estimate of patch quality.
- In the present study, an experiment was performed to test if the kairomone responsiveness of Asobara tabida Nees females (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) at arrival in a patch is specifically influenced by the number of hosts previously encountered in a series of patches of different qualities, thus highlighting their ability to estimate habitat profitability.
- Asobara tabida females keep trace of the number of hosts previously encountered in prior patches and adjust their foraging behaviour in the next, regardless of the kairomone level perceived in these patches. First, these results demonstrate the ability of parasitoids to estimate the relative patch quality on the basis of the number of hosts previously encountered. Second, they provide new insight into how parasitoids handle information from patch to patch. This ability is discussed in an evolutionary context.