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Keywords:

  • Longevity;
  • Microplitis croceipes;
  • parasitoids;
  • searching behaviour

Summary

  • 1
    For many adult nectar-feeding parasitoids food and moisture are essential for survival in the field. Early in the season, when floral nectar is not yet available in cotton, extrafloral nectar (EFN) is already present on young cotton plants.
  • 2
    The parasitoid Microplitis croceipes (Cresson) can use EFN cotton plants as an only food source. The longevity and reproduction of EFN-fed female wasps was comparable to wasps fed with honey and water provided on nectariless (NL) cotton plants, and was significantly higher compared with wasps kept on NL plants with no additional food source.
  • 3
    Wasps that were given preflight experiences on EFN cotton plants choose EFN cotton over NL cotton plants in two choice experiments in the flight tunnel. The parasitoids are more willing to search on an EFN plant at their second and third encounter with a plant previously visited, compared with an NL cotton plant.
  • 4
    Wasps can locate EFN from short distances by its odour alone, and find it almost as fast as honey, but much faster than odourless sucrose, which is only found randomly. Experience with EFN increased the retention ability of parasitoids on a flower model.