Using hosts of mixed sizes to reduce male-biased sex ratio in the parasitoid wasp, Diglyphus isaea Academic Article uri icon


  • Overproduction of males in mass rearing of parasitic Hymenoptera contributes to higher costs for biological control because only females directly kill pests. We present a technique, based on manipulating host composition, to generate less male-biased sex ratios in parasitoid species that adjust their sex allocation in response to relative host size. Our system consisted of chrysanthemum, Dendranthema grandiflora Tzvelev var. 'Miramar'; a leafminer, Liriomyza langei Frick (Diptera: Agromyzidae); and a commercially available parasitoid, Diglyphus isaea (Walker) (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae). We compared the offspring sex ratios of D. isaea females presented with different compositions of L. langei larvae on chrysanthemum. Presenting individual females with only large hosts increased mean sex ratio from 32 to 67% male over 2 days. However, presenting individual females with progressively larger hosts over 1 or 2 days reduced mean sex ratio from 90 to 100% male to less than 30% male. Groups of females produced sex ratios around 58% male if presented with both plants infested by only small hosts and plants infested by only large hosts. In comparison, groups of females produced sex ratios around 48% male if presented with plants infested by both small hosts and large hosts. We compared the use of both small hosts and large hosts to only large hosts for simulated mass rearing of wasps over 8 weeks. Using both small hosts and large hosts produced similar numbers of wasps as using only large hosts, but reduced mean sex ratio of weekly cohorts from 66% male to 56% male. The two techniques produced females of similar size, but using both large hosts and small hosts produced slightly smaller males than using only large hosts. The use of both small hosts and large hosts for mass rearing of D. isaea could reduce actual costs of females by 23%. 2005 The Netherlands Entomological Society.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Chow, A., & Heinz, K. M.

citation count

  • 31

complete list of authors

  • Chow, A||Heinz, KM

publication date

  • December 2005