Host searching behaviour of Diachasmimorpha kraussii (Fullaway) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Opiinae), a polyphagous parasitoid of Dacinae fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae)

Ero, Mark Marakus (2009) Host searching behaviour of Diachasmimorpha kraussii (Fullaway) (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Opiinae), a polyphagous parasitoid of Dacinae fruit flies (Diptera: Tephritidae). PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Diachasmimorpha kraussii (Hymenoptera: Braconidae: Opiinae) is a koinobiont larval parasitoid of dacine fruit flies of the genus Bactrocera (Diptera: Tephritidae) in its native range (Australia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands). The wasp is a potentially important control agent for pest fruit flies, having been considered for both classical and inundative biological control releases. I investigated the host searching, selection and utilisation mechanisms of the wasp against native host flies within its native range (Australia). Such studies are rare in opiine research where the majority of studies, because of the applied nature of the research, have been carried out using host flies and environments which are novel to the wasps. Diachasmimorpha kraussii oviposited equally into maggots of four fruit fly species, all of which coexist with the wasp in its native range (Australia), when tested in a choice trial using a uniform artificial diet media. While eggs laid into Bactrocera tryoni and B. jarvisi developed successfully through to adult wasps, eggs laid into B. cucumis and B. cacuminata were encapsulated. These results suggest that direct larval cues are not an important element in host selection by D. kraussii. Further exploring how D. kraussii locates suitable host larvae, I investigated the role of plant cues in host searching and selection. This was examined in a laboratory choice trial using uninfested fruit or fruit infested with either B. tryoni or B. jarvisi maggots. The results showed a consistent preference ranking among infested fruits by the wasp, with guava and peach most preferred, but with no response to uninfested fruits. Thus, it appears the wasp uses chemical cues emitted in response to fruit fly larval infestation for host location, but does not use cues from uninfested fruits. To further tease apart the role of (i) suitable and non-suitable maggots, (ii) infested and uninfested fruits of different plant species, and (iii) adult flies, in wasp host location and selection, I carried out a series of behavioural tests where I manipulated these attributes in a field cage. These trials confirmed that D. kraussii did not respond to cues in uninfested fruits, that there were consistent preferences by the wasps for different maggot infested fruits, that fruit preference did not vary depending on whether the maggots were physiologically suitable or not suitable for wasp offspring development, and finally, that adult flies appear to play a secondary role as indicators of larval infestation. To investigate wasp behaviour in an unrestrained environment, I concurrently observed diurnal foraging behaviours of both the wasp and one of its host fly in a small nectarine orchard. Wasp behaviour, both spatially and temporally, was not correlated with adult fruit fly behaviour or abundance. This study reinforced the point that infested fruit seems to be the primary cue used by foraging wasps. Wasp and fly feeding and mating was not observed in the orchard, implying these activities are occurring elsewhere. It is highly unlikely that these behaviours were happening within the orchard during the night as both insects are diurnal. As the final component of investigating host location, I carried out a habitat preference study for the wasp at the landscape scale. Using infested sentinel fruits, I tested the parasitism rate of B. tryoni in eucalyptus sclerophyll forest, rainforest and suburbia in South East Queensland. Although, rainforest is the likely endemic habitat of both B. tryoni and D. kraussii, B. tryoni abundance is significantly greater in suburban environments followed by eucalyptus sclerophyll forest. Parasitism rate was found to be higher in suburbia than in the eucalyptus sclerophyll forest, while no parasitism was recorded in the rainforest. This result suggests that wasps orient within the landscape towards areas of high host density and are not restricted by habitat types. Results from the different experiments suggest that host searching, selection and utilisation behaviour of D. kraussii are strongly influenced by cues associated with fruit fly larval feeding. Cues from uninfested fruits, the host larvae themselves, and the adult host flies play minimal roles. The discussion focuses on the fit of D. kraussii to Vinson’s classical parasitoid host location model and the implications of results for biological control, including recommendations for host and plant preference screening protocols and release regimes.

Impact and interest:

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

717 since deposited on 12 Nov 2009
55 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 28602
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Clarke, Anthony & Mather, Peter
Keywords: Diachasmimorpha kraussii, polyphagous parasitoid, Dacinae fruit flies
Divisions: Past > Schools > Biogeoscience
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > Faculty of Science and Technology
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 12 Nov 2009 01:10
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:53

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page