Increasing host age does not have the expected negative effects on the fitness parameters of an egg parasitoid.

Zhou, Y., Abram, P.K., Boivin, G., and Brodeur, J. (2014). "Increasing host age does not have the expected negative effects on the fitness parameters of an egg parasitoid.", Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 151(2), pp. 106-111. doi : 10.1111/eea.12173  Access to full text


Host age is an important determinant of host acceptance and suitability for egg parasitoids. As host embryonic development advances, the quality of resources available to the parasitoid offspring typically declines, usually resulting in reduced acceptance levels by foraging females and lower offspring fitness. We examined the ability of the parasitoid Telenomus podisi Ashmead (Hymenoptera: Scelionidae) to parasitize and develop in Podisus maculiventris (Say) (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) eggs of different ages. In laboratory experiments, we measured the effect of host age (6, 24, 48, 72, 96, or 120 h old) on parasitism rate and offspring fitness parameters such as survival, development time, sex ratio, and size. Contrary to our expectations, parasitism rate did not differ between host age treatments, nor did sex ratio allocation, offspring size, or the fecundity of newly emerged female offspring. However, parasitoid offspring had a longer development time with increasing host age. This trend was stronger for males than for females, which we suggest could reduce the degree of protandry among offspring emerging from older host eggs, thus increasing the rate of virginity upon leaving the emergence patch and resulting in more frequent off-patch mating by female offspring in nature. Overall, our results suggest that all stages of P. maculiventris embryonic development are suitable for acceptance and development of T. podisi. Unlike most species of egg parasitoids, T. podisi has evolved mechanisms to utilize host resources, regardless of host developmental stage, with relatively minor fitness consequences.

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