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Host specificity and host selection by insect parasitoids are hypothesized to be correlated with suitability of the hosts for parasitoid development. The present study investigates the correlation between host suitability and earlier studied host-finding behaviour of two closely related braconid larval parasitoid species, the generalist Cotesia glomerata (L.) and the specialist C. rubecula (Marshall) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). We compared the capability of both parasitoid species to parasitize and develop in three Pieris host species, i.e. P. brassicae (L.), P. rapae (L.) and P. napi (L.) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). In laboratory experiments, we measured the effect of host species on fitness parameters such as survival, development, sex ratio and size of parasitoid progeny. The results show that C. glomerata is capable of developing in the three host species, with significant differences in parasitoid survival, clutch size and adult weight among Pieris species. The host range for development was more restricted for C. rubecula. Although C. rubecula is physiologically able to develop in P. brassicae larvae, parasitoid fitness is negatively affected by this host species, compared to its most regular host, P. rapae. A comparison of the present data on host suitability with earlier studies on host-searching behaviour suggests that the host-foraging behaviour of both parasitoid species not only leads to selection of the most suitable host species for parasitoid development, but also plays a significant role in shaping parasitoid host range.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Journal publication date1998

ID: 377739