Development of the parasitoid, Cotesia rubecula (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) in Pieris rapae and Pieris brassicae (Lepidoptera: Pieridae): evidence for host regulation

J.A. Harvey, M.A. Jervis, R. Gols, N. Jiang, L.E.M. Vet

Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Several recent models examining the developmental strategies of parasitoids attacking hosts which continue feeding and growing after parasitism (=koinobiont parasitoids) assume that host quality is a non-linear function of host size at oviposition. We tested this assumption by comparing the growth and development of males of the solitary koinobiont endoparasitoid, Cotesiarubecula, in first (L1) to third (L3) larval instars of its preferred host, Pierisrapae and in a less preferred host, Pierisbrassicae. Beginning 3 days after parasitism, hosts were dissected daily, and both host and parasitoid dry mass was determined. Using data on parasitoid dry mass, we measured the mean relative growth rate of C. rubecula, and compared the trajectories of larval growth of the parasitoid during the larval and pupal stages using non-linear equations. Parasitoids generally survived better, completed development faster, and grew larger in earlier than in later instars of both host species, and adult wasps emerging from P. rapae were significantly larger than wasps emerging from all corresponding instars of P. brassicae. During their early larval stages, parasitoids grew most slowly in L1 P. rapae, whereas in all other host classes of both host species growth to pupation proceeded fairly uniformly. The growth of both host species was markedly reduced after parasitism compared with controls, with the development of P. brassicae arrested at an earlier stage, and at a smaller body mass, than P. rapae. Our results suggest that C. rubecula regulates certain biochemical processes more effectively in P. rapae than in P. brassicae, in accordance with its own nutritional and physiological requirements. Furthermore, we propose that, for parasitoids such as C. rubecula, which do not consume all host tissues prior to pupation, that parasitoid size and host quality may vary independently of host size at oviposition and at larval parasitoid egression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-182
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


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