The parasitoid complex associated with the herbivore Hadena bicruris (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) on Silene latifolia (Caryophyllaceae) in the Netherlands

J.A. Elzinga, K. Zwakhals, J.A. Harvey, A. Biere

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    Larvae of the moth, Hadena bicruris, constitute the most important predispersal seed predator on Silene latifolia (Caryophyllaceae). Parasitoids attacking the larvae of this specialist noctuid can potentially decrease the amount of damage to the plant. This paper describes and quantifies the parasitoid complex associated with H. bicruris in the Netherlands, and documents life history characters of its species. Forty-four percent of larval H. bicruris were parasitized by at least 13 species of parasitoids. The most prevalent of these were the braconids Microplitis tristis (22.9%) and Bracon variator (4.9%) and the ichneumonids Eurylabus tristis (11.7%) and Ophion pteridis (3.4%). Other species occurring sporadically were: the ichneumonids Scambus brevicornis, S. buolianae, Erigorgus cerinops, and Hyposoter sp.; the tachinids Phryxe vulgaris, P. nemea, Blondelia nigripes and Siphona geniculata; and a Mermithidae sp. The ichneumonid hyperparasitoid Mesochorus lanceolatus was fo! und occasionally in larvae of M. tristis. The hyperparasitoid ichneumonids Gelis agilis, G. hortensis and the chalcids Barvscapus endemus, Pteromalus chrysos and P. vibulenus were found in cocoons of both M. tristis and B. variator. The primary parasitoids M. tristis, E. tristis, and to a lesser extent, O. pteridis, are believed to be specialized on Hadena. The effect of the parasitoids on herbivory by their host is probably small because the most common parasitoid species are koinobionts that attack large, late instar hosts. Only B. variator and Scambus spp., which are ectoparasitoids, arrest host development immediately upon parasitism, but like the other parasitoids they kill mainly large L4 or L5 hosts. The gregarious M. tristis and B. variator produce clutches with a female-biased sex ratio, in contrast to the solitary E. tristis where the sex ratio approaches equality. The ectoparasitoid B. variator produces mostly single-sex clutches, probably avoiding deleterious ef! fects of inbreeding. The clutch size distributions suggest tha! t large clutches of M. tristis and B. variator are probably caused by multiple parasitisms.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-123
    JournalJournal of Natural History
    Issue number1-4
    Publication statusPublished - 2007


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