, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 427-440
Date: 21 Oct 2011

Are individuals from thelytokous and arrhenotokous populations equally adept as biocontrol agents? Orientation and host searching behavior of a fruit fly parasitoid

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Hymenopteran parasitoids generally reproduce by arrhenotoky, in which males develop from unfertilized eggs and females from fertilized eggs. A minority reproduce by thelytoky, in which all-female broods are derived from unfertilized eggs. Thelytokous populations are potentially of interest for augmentative biological control programs since the exclusive production of females could significantly lower the costs of mass rearing. Behavioral traits are a major component of parasitoid efficacy. Here, we examined orientation and host searching behavior in thelytokous and arrhenotokous populations of the fruit fly parasitoid Odontosema anastrephae Borgmeier (Hymenoptera: Figitidae). Orientation behavior to various odorant sources was studied in a two-choice olfactometer. No major differences were found between thelytokous and arrhenotokous wasps for this behavior. However, when host-searching behaviors were analyzed, some differences were found. Thelytokous females arrived sooner, foraged longer, and remained longer on non-infested guavas than arrhenotokous females. Individuals of both forms exhibited similar stereotyped behavioral sequences vis-à-vis guava treatments, with only slight deviations detected. Our results suggest that individuals from selected thelytokous and arrhenotokous O. anastrephae populations have similar abilities to search for tephritid larvae, supporting the use of thelytokous strains for augmentative releases.