How two different host species influence the performance of a gregarious parasitoid: host size is not equal to host quality
Professor Dr Silvia Dorn, ETH Zurich, Institute of Plant Sciences/Applied Entomology, Schmelzbergstrasse 9/LFO, CH-8092 Zurich, Switzerland. Tel: +41 44 6323921; Fax: +41 44 6321171; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 1Hyssopus pallidus Askew (Hymenoptera, Eulophidae) is a gregarious ectoparasitoid of the two tortricid moths species Cydia molesta Busck and C. pomonella L. (Lepidoptera, Tortricidae). It paralyses and parasitizes different larval instars of both species inside the apple fruit, which leads to the death of the caterpillar.
- 2We assessed the influence of host species characteristics and host food on the performance of the parasitoid female in terms of clutch size decisions and fitness of the F1 generation.
- 3A comparison of clutch size revealed that female parasitoids deposited similar numbers of eggs on the comparatively smaller C. molesta hosts as on the larger C. pomonella hosts. The number of parasitoid offspring produced per weight unit of host larva was significantly higher in C. molesta than in C. pomonella, which is contrary to the general prediction that smaller hosts yield less parasitoid offspring. However, the sex ratio was not influenced by host species that differed considerably in size.
- 4Despite the fact that less host resources were available per parasitoid larva feeding on C. molesta caterpillars, the mean weight of emerging female wasps was higher in the parasitoids reared on C. molesta. Furthermore, longevity of these female wasps was neither influenced by host species nor by the food their host had consumed. In addition we did not find a positive relationship between adult female weight and longevity.
- 5Parasitoid females proved to be able to assess accurately the nutritional quality of an encountered host and adjust clutch size accordingly. These findings indicate that host size is not equal to host quality. Thus host size is not the only parameter to explain the nutritional quality of a given host and to predict fitness gain in the subsequent generation.