Superparasitism in Laboratory rearing of Spalangia cameroni (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), a parasitoid of medfly (Diptera: Tephritidae)
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The frequency of superparasitism and its effects on the quality of laboratory-reared Spalangia cameroni (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) parasitoids were investigated under laboratory conditions. Numerous variables were measured, such as the number of 'ovip holes' per host as a measure of superparasitism. Adult emergence and sex ratio, as well as female size, emergence ability from soil and longevity were also measured. Finally, an assessment was made of fertility and survival of adult parasitoids emerging from the medfly Ceratitis capitata (Diptera: Tephritidae) pupae with different levels of superparasitism. A high frequency and prevalence of superparasitism under laboratory rearing conditions was observed. The number of 'ovip holes' per host ranged from one to 17, with an average (+/- SD) of 2.8 +/- 3.4. Sex ratios became increasingly female-biased with increasing levels of superparasitism, although overall levels of wasp emergence (male, female) declined. Nevertheless, no relationship was discerned between female size and level of superparasitism. The 'emergence ability from the soil' was higher in those parasitoids that emerged from strongly superparasitized hosts, but not related to the type of substrate in which the host pupae were buried. The level of superparasitism did not have a significant effect on the longevity, fertility and survival of female parasitoids. Our results support the hypothesis that superparasitism in S. cameroni might be adaptive, since attributes such as 'emergence ability from the soil', longevity, fertility and survival were not affected by the level of superparasitism or the presumably detrimental effects derived from physical combats among conspecific larvae. Our findings are relevant to recommendations for rearing S. cameroni for biological control releases, as well as shedding light on superparasitism under both laboratory and field conditions.