Immature stages of Eretmocerus mundus Mercet and Encarsia formosa Gahan (both Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) compete in larvae of their host, Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae). Laboratory tests were carried out on excised tree tobacco leaves, exposing B. tabaci nymphs to one of the parasitoid species alone or to both species, one after the other, to obtain multi-parasitization. Parasitization by E. mundus and E. formosa was allowed on specific host stages in order to obtain interactions between different immature stages of the two parasitoids (eggs, and first, second, and third instars). The outcome from each multi-parasitization treatment was verified by analysing data on parasitoid adult emergence. Observations under a stereomicroscope and dissections of multi-parasitized hosts were also performed in order to demonstrate any factors potentially determining the outcome of competition. Eretmocerus mundus clearly prevailed over E. formosa when multi-parasitism occurred. A higher percentage of adults emerging from multi-parasitized hosts belonged to this parasitoid species (68.0-88.9% depending on the treatment). The lowest percent emergence by E. mundus (68.0%) and total percent emergence of parasitoid adults (52.2%) were obtained when E. mundus first instars interacted with hosts parasitized by E. formosa third instars. Observations and dissections showed that first-instar E. mundus induced mortality in E. formosa immatures at penetration into the hosts, although they encountered greater difficulty in exploiting hosts inside which E. formosa had reached the third stage of development. In contrast, development of E. formosa immatures was not immediately inhibited if parasitization took place on hosts inside which E. mundus larvae had already penetrated. In this case, however, E. mundus also prevailed over E. formosa (72.5% of the emerged adults). Implications for the use of these parasitoid species against B. tabaci in biological control programmes are discussed. © 2008 The Authors.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Insect Science