Journal of Pest Science

, Volume 91, Issue 2, pp 771–780 | Cite as

Trichogramma parasitoids can distinguish between fertilized and unfertilized host eggs

  • Wen-Mei Du
  • Jing Xu
  • Yang-Yang Hou
  • Ying Lin
  • Lian-Sheng Zang
  • Xiangbing Yang
  • Jun-Jie Zhang
  • Chang-Chun Ruan
  • Nicolas Desneux
Original Paper


Host quality varies with size, age, and species, and influences the parasitism preference of parasitoids and the fitness of their offspring. However, it is still unclear whether parasitoids have the ability to recognize fertilized and unfertilized host eggs. We studied the performance of three Trichogramma species, T. japonicum, T. chilonis, and T. leucaniae, on both fertilized and unfertilized eggs of their host Corcyra cephalonica at different host ages. In no-choice tests, three Trichogramma species parasitized significantly more fertilized than unfertilized eggs when host age was 0 days old. In choice tests, all parasitoids parasitized significantly more fertilized than unfertilized eggs at all host ages. Furthermore, the frequency of fertilized eggs visited by Trichogramma parasitoids were significantly higher than those of unfertilized eggs. The number of unfertilized eggs visited by parasitoids without ovipositing was approximately 3.7 times greater than those of fertilized eggs. In addition, all Trichogramma parasitoids developed significantly faster on fertilized than unfertilized eggs at all host ages. In summary, we find that Trichogramma were able to recognize fertilized and unfertilized host eggs in parasitism, which is conducive to biological control programs, since unfertilized eggs enlarge the host reservoir for parasitoid augmentation.


Trichogramma Unfertilized host egg Host suitability Host selection 



We thank Prof. Shoushan Huang for the Trichogramma species identification. This research was funded by the National Key R&D Program of China (SQ2017ZY060059), and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31572058). The granting agencies had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or manuscript preparation.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wen-Mei Du
    • 1
  • Jing Xu
    • 1
  • Yang-Yang Hou
    • 1
  • Ying Lin
    • 1
  • Lian-Sheng Zang
    • 1
  • Xiangbing Yang
    • 2
  • Jun-Jie Zhang
    • 1
  • Chang-Chun Ruan
    • 1
  • Nicolas Desneux
    • 3
  1. 1.Engineering Research Center of Biological Control, Institute of Biological ControlJilin Agricultural UniversityChangchunChina
  2. 2.University of California DavisSalinasUSA
  3. 3.INRA (French National Institute for Agricultural Research), CNRS, UMR 1355-7254 Institute Sophia AgrobiotechUniversité Côte d’AzurSophia-AntipolisFrance

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