The response of aphid secondary parasitoids to different patch densities of their host

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Aphids are attacked by a large guild of natural enemies including many primary parasitoids which mummify their hosts. These mummies are themselves attacked by a guild of mummy parasitoids which are potentially important in regulating primary parasitoids at densities below which they can exert biological control. The response of mummy parasitoids to mummy densities was investigated in an experiment in which mummy densities of the pea aphid (Acyrthosiphon pisum) attacked by the parasitoid Aphidius ervi were manipulated across host plant patches. Overall, the risk of parasitism was density independent, though with very high inter-patch variability which may allow probabilistic refuges from secondary parasitism. Six species of four genera of mummy parasitoids were recorded. Of the responses of the individual genera, Coruna were reared most frequently from patches of high host density while amongst patches from which Syrphophagus was reared parasitism was inversely density dependent.

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