In natural systems, pre-adult stages of some insect herbivores are known to be attacked by several species of parasitoids. Under certain conditions, hosts may be simultaneously parasitized by more than one parasitoid species (= multiparasitism), even though only one parasitoid species can successfully develop in an individual host. Here, we compared development, survival, and intrinsic competitive interactions among three species of solitary larval endoparasitoids, Campoletis sonorensis (Cameron) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae), Microplitis demolitor Wilkinson, and Microplitis croceipes (Cresson) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), in singly parasitized and multiparasitized hosts. The three species differed in certain traits, such as in host usage strategies and adult body size. Campoletis sonorensis and M. demolitor survived equally well to eclosion in two host species that differed profoundly in size, Pseudoplusia includens (Walker) and the larger Heliothis virescens (Fabricius) (both Lepidoptera: Noctuidae). Egg-to-adult development time in C. sonorensis and M. demolitor also differed in the two hosts. Moreover, adult body mass in C. sonorensis (and not M. demolitor) was greater when developing in H. virescens larvae. We then monitored the outcome of competitive interactions in host larvae that were parasitized by one parasitoid species and subsequently multiparasitized by another species at various time intervals (0, 6, 24, and 48 h) after the initial parasitism. These experiments revealed that M. croceipes was generally a superior competitor to the other two species, whereas M. demolitor was the poorest competitor, with C. sonorensis being intermediate in this capacity. However, competition sometimes incurred fitness costs in M. croceipes and C. sonorensis, with longer development time and/or smaller adult mass observed in surviving wasps emerging from multiparasitized hosts. Our results suggest that rapid growth and large size relative to competitors of a similar age may be beneficial in aggressive intrinsic competition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Journal publication date2009

ID: 72219