Ecological Research

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 570–577 | Cite as

Behavioral manipulation of host caterpillars by the primary parasitoid wasp Cotesia glomerata (L.) to construct defensive webs against hyperparasitism

  • Shingo Tanaka
  • Naota Ohsaki
Original Article


Many parasitoids control the behavior of their hosts to achieve more preferable conditions. Decreasing predation pressure is a main aim of host manipulation. Some parasitoids control host behavior to escape from their enemies, whereas others manipulate hosts into constructing defensive structures as barriers against hyperparasitism. Larvae of the parasitoid wasp Cotesia glomerata form cocoon clusters after egression from the parasitized host caterpillar of the butterfly Pieris brassicae. After the egression of parasitoids, the perforated host caterpillar lives for a short period and constructs a silk web that covers the cocoon cluster. We examined whether these silk webs protect C. glomerata cocoons against the hyperparasitoid wasp Trichomalopsis apanteroctena. In cocoon clusters that were not covered by silk webs (“bare” clusters), only cocoons hidden beneath others avoided hyperparasitism. In covered cocoon clusters, both cocoons hidden beneath others and those with a space between them and the silk web avoided hyperparasitism, whereas cocoons that contacted the silk webs were parasitized. The frequency of cocoons that were hidden beneath others increased with the increasing number of cocoons in a cluster, but the defensive effect of cluster size was thought to be lower than that of silk webs. However, the rate of hyperparasitism did not differ between covered and bare clusters when we allowed the hyperparasitoids to attack the cocoon clusters in an experimental arena. This result was thought to have been caused by low oviposition frequency by these hyperparasitoids. As a result, silk webs did not guard the cocoons from hyperparasitoids in our experiments, but would protect cocoons under high hyperparasitism pressure by forming a space through which the ovipositors could not reach the cocoons.


Host manipulation Defensive structures Anti-parasitoid defense Pieris brassicae Hyperparasitoids 



We thank Dr M. Suwa, Dr S. Akimoto, and Dr K. Yoshizawa, Hokkaido University, for support throughout this study, and Dr K. Fujisaki and Dr T. Nishida, Kyoto University, for helpful advice and encouragement. We are also grateful to Dr K. Kamijo for identifying the hyperparasitoid wasps and to Dr Y. Sato, Kyoto College of Medical Technology, for helpful comments. Dr T. Ueno and an anonymous reviewer made useful critical comments. This work was supported in part by the 21st Century COE program for Innovative Food and Environmental Studies Pioneered by Entomomimetic Sciences, from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of AgricultureKyoto UniversityKyoto 606-8502Japan

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