Signals helping parasitoids to find hosts may emanate from the host itself, but also from the host habitat, such as shapes, colors, and volatiles. Though these cues are important, chemoreception is the dominant perceived modality. Melittobia spp. are gregarious ectoparasitoids, which primarily attack mud dauber prepupae. A gravid female parasitoid, having found and entered a host cell will lay eggs on the host surface and stay with this one host all her life. However, how this species locates hosts is unknown. In order to investigate inexperienced M. digitataís female ability to locate hosts, this study focused on whether host location results from random movement or is mediated by olfactory stimuli. In a small arena (0.15 m of diameter) with host prepupae, cocoons, and mud isolated from the parasitoid (in a small chamber beneath a filter paper floor), individual females M. digitata were able to locate host patches, and spent significantly more time on the host patches than on non-host, control areas in the arena. These results provide strong evidence for chemical arrestment of the parasitoids.
Species 1: Hymenoptera Eulophidae Melittobia digitata
Species 2: Hymenoptera Sphecidae Trypoxylon (mud dauber)
Keywords: host location, parasitism
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