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Behavioral responses of the parasitoid Psyllaephagus pistaciae (Hymenoptera: Encyrtidae) to host plant volatiles and honeydew


M. Reza Mehrnejad, Pistachio Research Institute, PO Box 77175.435, Rafsanjan, Iran. Email:


The behavioral responses of the parasitoid Psyllaephagus pistaciae, the major biocontrol agent of the common pistachio psylla, Agonoscena pistaciae, to volatiles emanating from its host plant and host honeydew, were examined using a four-arm airflow olfactometer. In addition, the arrestment behavior of this parasitoid on clean and honeydew-treated leaves of the pistachio, Pistacia vera, was monitored. The infested pistachio leaves were the most favored source of the volatile attracting the parasitoids. The parasitoid clearly distinguished and responded to infochemicals emitted by psyllid honeydew but at a lower level than to the volatiles from infested host plants. However, the searching time, locomotory behavior, antennal drumming and ovipositor probing were all affected when they encountered honeydew-contaminated zones on pistachio leaves. These findings suggest that the psyllid honeydew releases kairomones that stimulate the parasitoids to greater searching activity, as well as providing a directional cue. The intensive searching activities in the presence of the volatiles tested were very similar to responses by the parasitoid females when encountering patches treated with psyllid honeydew. Such behavior could retain the parasitoid in a favorable area, thereby increasing the probability of additional host encounters.