Host size-dependent sex allocation behaviour in a parasitoid: implications for Catolaccus grandis (Hymenoptera : Pteromalidae) mass rearing programmes Academic Article uri icon


  • AbstractAn often encountered problem associated with augmentative and inundative biological control programmes is the high cost of producing sufficient numbers of natural enemies necessary to suppress pest populations within the time constraints imposed by ephemeral agroecosystems. In many arrhenotokous parasitoids, overproduction of males in mass-rearing cultures inflates costs (per female) and thus limits the economic feasibility of these biological control programmes. Within the context of existing production technologies, experiments were conducted to determine if the sex ratio ofCatolaccus grandis(Burks), an ectoparasitoid of the boll weevilAnthonomous grandisBoheman, varied as a function of boll weevil larval size. Results from natural and manipulative experiments demonstrate the following behavioural characteristics associated with C.grandissex allocation behaviour: (i) femaleC. grandisoffspring are produced on large size hosts and male offspring are produced on small hosts; (ii) whether a host is considered large or small depends upon the overall distribution of host sizes encountered by a female parasitoid; and (iii) female parasitoids exhibit a greater rate of increase in body size with host size than do male parasitoids. The observed patterns cannot be explained by sex-specific mortality of immature parasitoids developing on the different host size categories. In subsequent experiments, laboratory cultures ofC. grandisexposed daily to successively larger sizes ofA. grandislarvae produced successively greater female biased offspring sex ratios, cultures exposed daily to successively smaller sizes of host larvae produced successively greater male biased offspring sex ratios, and cultures exposed daily to equivalent host size distributions over time maintained a uniform offspring sex ratio. By increasing the average size ofA. grandislarval hosts exposed toC. grandisby 2.5 mg per day in mass rearing cultures, the percentage of male progeny can be reduced from 33% to 23% over a period of four consecutive exposure days.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Heinz, K. M.

citation count

  • 26

complete list of authors

  • Heinz, KM

publication date

  • February 1998