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The Ability To Distinguish Between Hosts Containing Different Numbers of Parasitoid Eggs By the Solitary Parasitoid Leptopilina Heterotoma (Thomson) (Hym., Cynip.)

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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).

In the discussion of the function of host discrimination and superparasitism by solitary parasitoids, it has never been conclusively shown that female parasitoids could assess the number of parasitoid eggs already present in a host. The available indirect evidence consists of an analysis of egg distributions over hosts, which are remarkably regular. This can be explained by an ability to assess the number of parasitoid eggs present and to oviposit only in hosts containing the lowest number of eggs. However, direct evidence for the ability of parasitoids to assess the number of eggs in a host has never been presented. In this study it is shown that the solitary parasitoid Leptopilina heterotoma, when presented with hosts containing one or two eggs, lays almost exclusively in the first category. Thus, L. heterotoma can distinguish between the two categories.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Population Biology, University of Leiden, P.O. Box 9516, 2300 RA Leiden, The Netherlands


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