Aestivation in Pieris brassicae (L.) affects the parasitoid load caused by Cotesia glomerata (L.)


Ulrich Pörschmann, Department of Animal Behaviour, Bielefeld University, Morgenbreede 45, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany. Email:


The large white butterfly Pieris brassicae (L.) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) undergoes a unique aestivation in southern Spain. Its pupae remain dormant for three months in summer, emerging in early September. Its main parasitoid, Cotesia glomerata (L.) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), shows no such diapause behavior and is thus deprived of its main host for this period and has to switch to less suitable host species. To study the effect the aestivation has on the parasitoids, caterpillars were collected from the region in May and September and levels of parasitization were determined. Results show that parasitoid attacks decrease clearly after the summer diapause. The number of parasitized butterfly clutches in September was only one third as the number in May and the infestation rate of an attacked clutch decreased by 55% after aestivation. The distribution of brood sizes of C. glomerata showed clear signs of superparasitism before but not after the diapause. Therefore, the butterfly generation after summer diapause has to deal with distinctly diminished numbers of parasitoids. This increases the survival rate of the caterpillar and thus improves the fitness of the butterfly.