Egg size, intrinsic competition, and lethal interference in the parasitoids Encarsia pergandiella and Encarsia formosa

Timothy Collier, Suzanne Kelly, Martha Hunter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Scopus citations


Recent population dynamic theory predicts that disruption of biological control may occur when one parasitoid species' superiority in intrinsic competition is associated with a lower ability to find and exploit hosts (i.e., ability in extrinsic competition). One might expect such a trade-off, for instance, if parasitoids with larger (and fewer) eggs are more likely to prevail in intrinsic competition than species with smaller (and more numerous) eggs. We tested the idea that relative egg size could be used to predict the outcome of intrinsic competition in two closely related endoparasitoids, Encarsia pergandiella Howard and Encarsia formosa Gahan. Contrary to expectation, the parasitoid species with smaller eggs, E. pergandiella, prevailed in intrinsic competition, regardless of the order that hosts were exposed to the two species. In a literature survey, we found four studies of competing pairs of endoparasitoid species for which: (a) egg size estimates were available and (b) one species was consistently superior in intrinsic competition. In three of the four studies, the small-egged species prevailed in intrinsic competition, as we also found. Although E. formosa lost in intrinsic competition, this species negatively affected E. pergandiella's progeny production by host feeding on and killing hosts containing E. pergandiella eggs. E. formosa females also host fed on conspecific-parasitized hosts. As a mechanism of both intra- and interspecific interference competition, host feeding on parasitized hosts contradicts assumptions about the nature of interference competition in existing population dynamics models.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)254-261
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Aphelinidae
  • Bemisia tabaci
  • Biological control
  • Counter-balanced competition
  • Host feeding
  • Multiparasitism
  • Trialeurodes vaporariorum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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