Sex Allocation by a Parasitoid Wasp (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) to Different Host Species: A Question for the Mechanism of Host Size Estimation

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Sex allocation by the polyphagous solitary pupal parasitoid wasp Pimpla luctuosa Smith to a small host species, Galleria mellonella (L.), and a large host species, Mamestra brassicae L., was investigated to test whether female wasps responded to hosts of different sizes across different host species. In the experiments, both host species were presented to each test female wasp. Primary and secondary sex ratio experiments revealed that female wasps laid more female eggs in larger pupae of each host species, indicating that female wasps recognized size differences within host species. The wasp sex ratio (male ratio) from M. brassicae, however, was much higher than that expected on the basis of the sex ratio curve from different-sized G. mellonella. Larger hosts of each host species yielded larger wasps, indicating that the host size estimation by female wasps across different host species was incomplete or was not simple. These results suggested that P. luctuosa evaluated host size not only by physical measures such as dimension but also by other unknown measures. A possible explanation for the adaptiveness of different sex ratio responses by Pimpla luctuosa to different host species was discussed.

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