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Host Preference of Cephalonomia Waterstoni Gahan, a Bethylid Parasitoid of Laemophloeus Species

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F. Cephalonomia waterstòni Gahan, a bethylid parasite of Laemophloeus, shows a different degree of preference for several species of the host. Preference is measured by the relative numbers of the various host species which are attacked and oviposited upon in a certain period of time. The two are not necessarily proportional, but probably are. 2. The relative attractiveness of four species of Laemophloeus was compared in the laboratory. L. ferrugineus and an unidentified species (see Appendix) are about equally attractive, L. minutus comes next and L. turcicus is least preferred of these four. 3. When confined with one or both of the non-preferred species the incidence of parasitism rises, more so on L. minutus than on L. turcicus. 4. No food conditioning effect was detected on L.sp.n.det. but after 1-9 geverations on L. minutus the parasite's preference for that host increased but did not surpass are mixed together in a common vessel. 5. Cephalonomia can discriminate between L. minutus and L. ferrugineus when they the primary preference for L. ferrugineus. 6. Discrimination in oviposition is still possible when paralyzed larvae of L. minitus and L. ferrugineus are offered. This rules out several factors from the list of possible ones utilised by the parasite in selecting its host or which prevent it from utilising certain hosts. Examples are movement and silk, the first a possible stimulus and the second a possible barrier. 7. The evidence put forward in this paper supports the hypothesis that parasites may be stimulated to attack and oviposit, although to a lesser degree, by qualities of hosts related to their normal host. The effective stimulus may take the form of a range of related stimuli, the effectiveness at any point on the range depending on the physiological condition of the parasite. Unless its threshold is low the parasite may not be stimulated by the limits of the range. 8. The type of differential host preference described in Cephalonomia waterstoni may be advantageous to the species in that a secondary host may replace the preferred one in a season or region in which the latter is absent or scarce. In a normal season the secondary host will not be heavily parasitized and may form a 'host reservoir'.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, University of Birmingham


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