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Success of Parasitization of Pseudeucoila Bochei Weld (Hym., Cynip.): a Matter of Experience

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image of Netherlands Journal of Zoology
For more content, see Archives Néerlandaises de Zoologie (Vol 1-17) and Animal Biology (Vol 53 and onwards).

Females of Pseudeucoila bochei which parasitize larvae of Drosophila species appear to have difficulties when they parasitize for the first time. Although the components of their oviposition behaviour are not clearly different, many hosts die, or appear on dissection to contain no egg. The duration of the parasitization is significantly longer and more variable. This failure in parasitization is independent of the age of the wasps on the day they are allowed to parasitize their first hosts. When the wasps are allowed to parasitize for the second time, after an interval of one night or more, parasitization is always successful, takes less time and is less variable. This prompted research on the significance of intervals between parasitizations for success. An interval of about three hours after a series of mainly unsuccessful first parasitizations appeared sufficient. When the intervals were reduced to 5 minutes after each parasitization, the wasp parasitized all hosts successfully after about 10 parasitizations. An interval of about 5 hours after the very first (unsuccessful) parasitization was not sufficient to ensure that all subsequent parasitizations were successful. However, an interval of about 24 hours after a single (unsuccessful) parasitization appeared sufficient. The experiments were repeated with two other strains of Pseudeucoila, and with a hybrid strain. In one strain the phenomenon was less pronounced: the hosts did not die, and appeared to contain an egg, although the duration of the parasitizations was clearly longer. The results imply that both "experience" and time are important for the development of a proper parasitization behaviour. One single parasitization is indispensable, but the degree of success of later parasitizations is dependent on both the number of other trials and the duration of the intervals between them.

Affiliations: 1: Zoological Laboratory, Department of Ecology, University of Leiden, The Netherlands


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