Interspecific competition amongst parasitoids is important in shaping the evolution of life-history strategies in these insects as well as community structure. Competition for hosts may occur between adult female parasitoids (‘extrinsic’ competition) or their progeny (‘intrinsic’ competition). Here, we examined intrinsic competition between two solitary secondary hyperparasitoids, Lysibia nana and Gelis agilis in cocoons of a primary parasitoid, Cotesia glomerata. Each species was allowed to sting hosts previously parasitized by the other at 24 h time intervals over the course of 144 h (6 days). When hosts were attacked simultaneously, neither species was dominant although the species to attack first won most encounters when it had a 24–48 h head start. However, after this time there was dramatic shift in the outcome with G. agilis dominating in all hosts > 72-h old, regardless of which species had parasitized C. glomerata first. G. agilis larvae, which initially had competed with L. nana for control of C. glomerata resources, began attacking the larvae of L. nana, whereas L. nana rejected hosts with older G. agilis larvae or pupae. Effects of multiparasitism also affected the development time and adult mass of the winning parasitoid. Our results reveal a shift in the trophic status of G. agilis from C. glomerata (in younger hosts) to L. nana (in older hosts), the first time such a phenomenon has been reported in parasitoids.
Original languageEnglish
Journal publication date2011

ID: 371071