Intraspecific plant variation and nonhost herbivores affect parasitoid host location behaviour

Luuk Croijmans*, Reinier T. Valstar, Lien Schuur, Isabelle Jacobs, Dirk F. van Apeldoorn, Erik H. Poelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Parasitoids need to find their hosts in patchy environments that differ in profitability. To maximize foraging efficiency, parasitoids use volatile information of plants on which their hosts feed. The blend of plant volatiles emitted is affected by genetic variation in plants and by the herbivore species feeding on the plant. How parasitoids deal with variation in plant volatiles induced by host or nonhost herbivores on various plant genotypes in a plant stand is unclear. In a wind tunnel, we examined foraging behaviour of the parasitoid Cotesia glomerata in mixes of white cabbage cultivars with host (Pieris brassicae) and nonhost herbivores (Mamestra brassicae or Delia radicum). We specifically studied the efficiency of parasitoids in locating a host-infested plant when having to pass three other plants that varied in volatile emission by cultivar and herbivore identity. We show that foraging decisions of C. glomerata are affected by the apparency of volatile cues from upwind host-infested plants. We found that parasitoids flew over the first three plants more often when the last plant was a host-infested attractive cultivar and the first three plants were a less attractive cultivar, regardless of the presence of host or nonhost herbivores. Furthermore, parasitoids spent more time on the first three plants if these were infested with host or nonhost larvae, and this effect was stronger when the first three plants were of the attractive cultivar. Our results suggest that parasitoids may more easily locate host herbivores on plant genotypes with more apparent volatile information. However, host location efficiency is affected by the contrast with other plumes of plant volatiles derived from genotypic variation in plants and induction of volatiles by nonhost herbivores. Apparency of information on upwind patches influences patch residence time and patch choice and is an important component of optimal foraging in parasitoids.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-184
JournalAnimal Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022


  • Cotesia glomerata
  • foraging behaviour
  • herbivore-induced plant volatile
  • intraspecific variation
  • marginal value theorem
  • nonhost
  • parasitoid


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