The larvae of most endoparasitoid wasps consume virtually all host tissues before pupation. However, in some clades, the parasitoid larvae primarily consume haemolymph and fat body and emerge through the side of the host, which remains alive and active for up to several days. The evolutionary significance of this host-usage strategy has attracted attention in recent years. Recent empirical studies suggest that the surviving larva guards the parasitoid broods against natural enemies such as predators and hyperparasitoids. Known as the 'usurpation hypothesis', the surviving larvae bite, regurgitate fluids from the gut, and thrash the head capsule when disturbed. In the present study, the 'usurpation hypothesis' is tested in the association involving Manduca sexta, its parasitoid Cotesia congregata, and a secondary hyperparasitoid Lysibia nana. Percentage parasitoid survival is higher and hyperparasitism lower when cocoons of C. congregata are attached to the dorsum of M. sexta caterpillars. Fat body contents in several associations involving solitary and gregarious parasitoids feeding on haemolymph and fat body are also compared. The amount of fat body retained in parasitized caterpillars varies considerably from one association to another. In M. sexta and Pieris brassicae, considerable amounts of fat body remain after parasitoid emergence whereas, in Cotesia kariyai and Cotesia rufricus, virtually all of the fat body is consumed by the parsasitoid larvae. The length of post-egression survival of parasitized caterpillars differs considerably in several tested associations. In Pseudeletia separata, most larvae die within a few hours of parasitoid emergence whereas, in M. sexta, parasitized larvae live up to 2 weeks after parasitoid emergence. Larvae in other associations parasitized by gregarious and solitary endoparasitoids live for intermediate periods. The results are discussed in relation to the adaptive significance of different feeding strategies of immature parasitoids and of the costs and benefits of retaining the parasitized caterpillar in close proximity with the parasitoid cocoons.
Harvey, J. A., Bezemer, T. M., Gols, R., Y., N., & Tanaka, T. (2008). Comparing the physiological effects and function of larval feeding in closely-related endoparasitoids (Braconidae: Microgastrinae). Physiological Entomology, 33(3), 217-225. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-3032.2008.00623.x