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Behavioural Variations Among Strains of Trichogramma Spp.: Host Recognition by

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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).

Various strains of the hymenopterous egg parasite Trichogramma spp. (Trichogrammatidae) were found to differ in the acceptance of two lepidopterous species, Mamestra brassicae (Noctuidae) and Pieris brassicae (Pieridae), as a host. Both host species occur as a pest in cabbage crops in the Netherlands and the possibilities for inundative biological control by means of Trichogramma mass-releases are being investigated. Eggs of M. brassicae appear to be highly acceptable hosts to females of different Trichogramma strains, whereas the acceptability of P. brassicae eggs varies. A strain of T. buesi and one of T. maidis, with a low and a high degree of accepting P. brassicae eggs, respectively, were selected to study the factors which determine the recognition of hosts by Trichogramma females in order to explain how they can differentiate between host species. The behaviour of individual females in an arena with one kind of natural hosts, or glass-model hosts receiving various treatments, was continuously observed. A recognition kairomone from the host-egg surface, possibly secreted by the host's accessory glands, as well as the size, colour and texture of the host, but not its shape, were found to play a role in the host-recognition process. Females of the two strains showed different acceptance criteria for these factors, in accordance with their respective host-species acceptance behaviour. For females of T. buesi, the P. brassicae recognition kairomone, a yellow host colour and a large host size had a negative influcnce on host acceptance, whereas these features were positive or neutral for T. maidis. This difference in host-recognition behaviour seems adaptive in light of the difference in suitability of P. brassicae eggs for development of the two parasite strains. The apparent generalist host-selection strategy found in Trichogramma females is discussed in comparison with the specialist strategy occurring in the egg parasite Telenomus (Scelionidae).

Affiliations: 1: Agricultural University, Dept. of Entomology, Binnenhaven 7, 6709 PD Wageningen, The Netherlands


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