Host discrimination in parasitic wasps: when is it advantageous?

W. W. Weisser, A. I. Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


In solitary insect parasitoids hosts can only support the development of a single larva. The authors review the experimental evidence for the ability of parasitoid females to distinguish between hosts parasitized by a conspecific, hosts parasitized by a female of a different species, and self-parasitized hosts. They consider the case of a female that is able to distinguish between unparasitized, self- and non-self-parasitized hosts and a dynamic programming model is develped to predict circumstances under which this female will not discriminate between host types. Host patches deplete when the wasp is foraging in them and the decisions of the wasps concerning whether or not to accept a non-self-parasitized host and how long to stay in a patch are based on the number of each host type left in the patch. Handling times, the fitness increments gained through oviposition in a particular host, travel time between patches and the initial numbers of each host type in the patch influence both patch residence time and the number of parasitized hosts accepted for oviposition. Mortality risks within and between patches and the age of the female affects its foraging strategy. -from Authors

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-39
Number of pages13
JournalFunctional Ecology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


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