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Behavioral responses of the parasitoid Melittobia digitata to volatiles emitted by its natural and laboratory hosts

  • Authors: Cusumano, A; González, JM; Colazza, S; Vinson, SB
  • Publication year: 2010
  • Type: Articolo in rivista (Articolo in rivista)
  • Key words: Trypoxylon politum, host selection, kairomones, host location, Hymenoptera, Eulophidae, Crabronidae, Y-tube olfactometer, mud dauber wasp, meconium, Anthrax
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Responses of macropterous females of the ectoparasitoid Melittobia digitata Dahms (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) to direct and indirect cues emitted by its natural hosts as well as laboratory hosts were investigated using a Y-tube olfactometer. To locate the nest ofmud dauber wasps, Trypoxylon politum Say (Hymenoptera: Crabronidae), and one of their inquilines, Anthrax spec., parasitoids exploit volatiles from the freshly built nest mud and the empty cocoon constructed by the wasps, as well as their meconium. However, the parasitoids did not respond to odors emitted by older nest mud or by the host stages that are attacked (T. politum prepupae and Anthrax spec. larvae). Melittobia digitata was not attracted to direct volatiles released by the dipteran hosts Anastrepha ludens Loew (Diptera: Tephritidae) (a natural host) and Sarcophaga bullata (Parker) (Diptera: Sarcophagidae) (a laboratory host). Based on our results, we suggest that M. digitata adopts a ‘sit and wait’ strategy to locate mud dauber wasps, relying mainly on indirect host-related cues: females search for nests that are under construction and once found, they wait inside the cell until the host completes its cocoon and releases meconium, an indicator that is associated with host suitability. No attraction was found to dipteran hosts, suggesting that parasitization of these hosts may be incidental, due to the broad host plasticity of Melittobia wasps.