Brood size and sex ratio in response to host quality and wasp traits in the gregarious parasitoid Oomyzus sokolowskii (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)

Abstract

This laboratory study investigated whether the larval-pupal parasitoid Oomyzus sokolowskii females adjust their brood size and sex ratio in response to body size and stage of Plutella xylostella larval hosts, as well as to their own body size and the order of oviposition. These factors were analyzed using multiple regression with simultaneous entry of them and their two-way interactions. Parasitoids brood size tended to increase with host body size at parasitism when the 4th instar larval host was attacked, but did not change when the 2nd and 3rd instar larvae were attacked. Parasitoids did not vary in brood size according to their body size, but decreased with their bouts of oviposition on a linear trend from 10 offspring adults emerged per host in the first bout of oviposition down to eight in the third. Parasitoid offspring sex ratio did not change with host instar, host body weight, wasp body size, and oviposition bout. Proportions of male offspring per brood were from 11% to 13% from attacking the 2nd to 4th instar larvae and from 13% to 16% across three successive bouts of oviposition, with a large variation for smaller host larvae and wasps. When fewer than 12 offspring were emerged from a host, one male was most frequently produced; when more than 12 offspring were emerged, two or more males were produced. Our study suggests that O. sokolowskii females may optimize their clutch size in response to body size of mature P. xylostella larvae, and their sex allocation in response to clutch size.

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