Parasitism rates and sex ratios of a parasitoid wasp: effects of herbivore and plant quality
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- Fox, L.R., Letourneau, D.K., Eisenbach, J. et al. Oecologia (1990) 83: 414. doi:10.1007/BF00317569
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We studied interactions among collards, Brassica oleracea var. acephala, the diamondback moth (DBM), Plutella xylostella (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae) and its parasitoid Diadegma insulare (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) by manipulating plant nitrogen (N) concentrations in field and laboratory experiments. Parasitoid abundance strongly reflected DBM abundance and was related to total leaf N. Parasitism rates were high (70.7%) and density-independent. Wasp sex ratios varied markedly (3–93% female) in response to the herbivores, the plants, or both. Higher proportions of female wasps emerged from DBM larvae on plants with high leaf N than on unfertilized plants. More female wasps also emerged from larvae parasitized as larger instars. We suggest that wasps have the potential to control DBM populations through long-term numerical responses mediated by variable sex ratios.