Hyperparasitism behaviour of the autoparasitoid Encarsia tricolor on two secondary host species

Y. Huang, A. Loomans, J.C. van Lenteren, X. RuMei

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Hyperparasitism by virgin female Encarsia tricolor was studied by direct observation of its behaviour when contacting two secondary host species (Encarsia formosa and E. tricolor) at different host stages (first and second larval stage, third larval stage, and pupal stage). The searching and hyperparasitism behavioural sequence of E. tricolor was independent of the host stage of the whitefly (Aleyrodes proletella), and was similar to several related primary parasitoid species. In experiments with equal numbers of secondary hosts, encounter frequencies were equal for both secondary host species in all developmental stages observed. However, rates of hyperparastism were different according to host stage and host species. Hosts in the late larval stages were most preferred for hyperparasitization and the heterospecific E. formosa was more preferred as a secondary host than the conspecific, E. tricolor, in particular from the prepupal stage onwards. The window of vulnerability, i.e., the duration of the period in which a secondary host is susceptible to hyperparasitism, was largely determined by the occurrence and rate of melanization after the onset of pupation. The duration of a successful hyperparasitization event was longer than one that failed. Superparasitism occurred only once in all cases. The potential effect of autoparasitoids on biological control programs and the consequences for selection and release of an effective, yet ecologically safe agent are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-424
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • trialeurodes-vaporariorum homoptera
  • formosa hymenoptera-aphelinidae
  • bemisia-argentifolii homoptera
  • biological-control
  • pergandiella hymenoptera
  • parasitoids hymenoptera
  • insect parasitoids
  • aleyrodidae
  • dynamics
  • selection


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