Host-searching behavior in insects generally varies among individuals. A number of physiological and environmental factors can be involved in such individual variation. Here, a series of behavioral observations were made to highlight the importance of physiological state (i.e., number of mature eggs a female carries, amount of nutrient reserves, etc.) and learning state (i.e., prior host experience) on host-approaching behavior of parasitoids. Itoplectis naranyae (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae), a solitary endoparasitoid wasp attacking lepidopteran pupae and prepupae, was used as a test insect. The results show that female wasps with experience ovipositing on hosts 2 days before the test found hosts more quickly than did naïve wasps. Prior experience of host odor itself did not affect host-finding behavior, however. A single oviposition was enough for wasps to shorten time to find a host; additional experience had no significant effect on the efficiency of searching. The number of mature eggs a female carried had no effect on the time required to find a host regardless of prior host experience. The size of wasps, instead, was a significant factor when wasps had no prior host experience, and larger wasps found hosts more rapidly than did smaller wasps. Searching activity was not affected by how many hosts a female wasp had fed on before testing.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology