Postteneral protein feeding may improve biological control efficiency of Aphytis lingnanensis and Aphytis melinus.
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The augmentative releases of mass-reared Aphytis spp. (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) parasitoids are widely used against armored scales. The nutritional status and the initial egg load of Aphytis spp. females are key to their success as biological control agents. For these reasons, this work focuses on the study of providing a protein feed to Aphytis lingnanensis (Compere) and A. melinus DeBach to improve the egg load before their release. The addition of protein to a honey diet during the first 2d after the adult parasitoid emergence increased the initial egg load in both species of parasitoids by more than five eggs. Furthermore, the addition of protein increased the total number of eggs laid by A. lingnanensis on oleander scale, Aspidiotus nerii Bouche (Hemiptera: Diaspididae). In contrast, this effect was not observed on A. melinus probably because A. nerii is considered a suboptimal host for this parasitoid. The host-feeding activities of the two Aphytis species were differentially affected by the addition of protein to their diets. These results may have direct implications for augmentative biological control programs, especially during transportation from insectaries to the field, a period of time when parasitoids are deprived of hosts.