Olfactory attractiveness of flowering plants to the parasitoid Microplitis mediator: potential implications for biological control
- First Online:
- Cite this article as:
- Belz, E., Kölliker, M. & Balmer, O. BioControl (2013) 58: 163. doi:10.1007/s10526-012-9472-0
- 547 Downloads
In agricultural landscapes, the lack of floral nectar can be a major difficulty for nectar feeding parasitoids. This problem can be reduced by the addition of suitable wildflowers. To date, flowers have mainly been studied in terms of effects on parasitoid fitness, not taking into account the essential role of flower attractiveness for foraging parasitoids. This study experimentally tested the olfactory attractiveness of five wildflowers (bishop’s weed, cornflower, buckwheat, candytuft, and oregano) to the parasitoid Microplitis mediator (Haliday) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae). We conducted choice experiments in a Y-tube olfactometer to test the attractiveness of flowers against air, and relative attractiveness in paired choice tests. Our results showed that all the flowers were highly attractive and that in paired choice tests cornflower and candytuft were equally attractive and more attractive than buckwheat. These results indicate that M. mediator has evolved innate preferences that could be effectively exploited in biological control.