Abstract Several parasitic wasps of the Pimplinae (Ichneumonidae) use self-produced vibrations transmitted through plant substrate to locate their concealed immobile hosts (lepidopteran pupae) by reflected signals. This mechanosensory mechanism of host location, called vibrational sounding, depends on the physical characteristics of the plant substrate and the wasp’s body and is postulated to depend on ambient temperature. Adaptations of two parasitoid species to thermal conditions of their habitats and the influence of temperature on the trophic interaction during host location are investigated in the tropical Xanthopimpla stemmator (Thunberg) and compared with the temperate Pimpla turionellae (L.). Plant-stem models with hidden host mimics are offered to individual wasps under defined temperature treatments and scored for the number and location of ovipositor insertions. Significant effects of temperature are found on host-location activity and its success. The tropical species possesses an optimum temperature range for vibrational sounding between 26 and 32 °C, whereas the performance decreases both at low and high temperatures. The temperate species reveals substantial differences with respect to performance at the same thermal conditions. With increasing temperature, P. turionellae shows a reduced response to the host mimic, reduced numbers of ovipositor insertions, and decreased precision of mechanosensory host location. In the tropical X. stemmator, the female wasps are able to locate their host with high precision over a broad range of ambient temperatures, which suggests endothermic thermoregulation during vibrational sounding. Environmental physiology may therefore play a key role in adaptation of the host location mechanism to climatic conditions of the species’ origin.