Conspecific Avoidance During Foraging inVenturia canescens(Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae): The Roles of Host Presence and Conspecific Densities

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We explored the effects of the presence of conspecifics on host patch choice decisions made by the parasitoid Venturia canescens. Different odor sources were located in plastic boxes at the end of each arm of a glass Y-tube olfactometer. In a set of experiments, odor sources were either (a) host kairomone patches with or without conspecifics (5 or 20) or (b) two odor sources located in successive boxes (a host kairomone patch and a patch with 20 conspecifics in one arm versus a host patch and an empty patch in the other). Our results indicate that V. canescens avoids competition only at high conspecific densities. Avoidance occurs only when foraging wasps perceive the combined odors from host kairomones and conspecific females. Separating the host patch from conspecific parasitoids does not perturb avoidance behavior.

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