Sex allocation in a field population of an autoparasitoid

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23 Scopus citations


Autoparasitoid wasps lay fertilized eggs in homopteran nymphs, and these eggs develop into female primary parasitoids. Unfertilized, male-producing eggs are laid in immatures of the wasps' own or another primary parasitoid species; males then develop as secondary or hyperparasitoids. In the population of Encarsia pergandiella studied in Ithaca, NY, fertilized eggs were laid in the nymphs of the whitefly Trialeurodes packardi (primary hosts) and unfertilized eggs were laid almost exclusively in pupal females of their own species (secondary hosts). In the two years the population was studied, secondary hosts were always much less abundant than primary hosts at both sites. However, secondary hosts were parasitized at a significantly greater rate than primary hosts. In a laboratory experiment, the encounter rate of females with primary and secondary hosts was not significantly different. Moreover, there was no evidence from the field that wasps found leaves bearing secondary hosts more frequently than leaves without secondary hosts. Dissections of field-collected females showed them to be mated, and thus capable of laying both unfertilized and fertilized eggs. These results suggest that wasps did not encounter secondary hosts at a greater rate, nor were they constrained to lay unfertilized eggs, but rather secondary hosts were preferred. The oviposition sex ratios were influenced by the proportion of secondary hosts, but were less female-biased than would be predicted from the proportion of secondary hosts alone. The results do not support the predictions of Godray and Waage (1990) for either strictly host-limited autoparasitoids (sex ratio should reflect the proportion of secondary hosts) or for egg-limited autoparasitoids (sex ratio should be equal, and independent of the proportion of secondary hosts).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-428
Number of pages8
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1993


  • Encarsia pergandiella
  • Heteronomous hyperparasitoid
  • Sex ratio
  • Trialeurodes packardi
  • Whitefly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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