Effects of size and age of the host Musca domestica (Diptera: Muscidae) on production of the parasitoid wasp Spalangia endius (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae)
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One method of control of house flies, Musca domestica L. (Diptera: Muscidae), and other filth flies is by repeated release of large numbers of pupal parasitoids such as Spalangia endius Walker. Rearing these parasitoids may be facilitated by understanding how host factors affect their production. Previous studies have examined the effects of host size and host age on parasitoid production, but have not examined the interaction between host size and host age or the effects with older females, which may be less capable of drilling tough hosts. Females were given hosts of a single size-age category (small young, small old, large young, or large old) for two weeks. The effect of host size and of host age on parasitoid production depended on female age. On their first day of oviposition, females produced more offspring from large than from small hosts, but host age had no significant effect. The cumulative number of parasitoids produced in the first week was not significantly affected by host size or host age. However, the cumulative number of parasitoids produced over two weeks was affected by both host size and host age, with the greatest number of parasitoids produced from small young hosts. Thus not only are smaller hosts cheaper to produce, but these results suggest that their use may have no effect or a positive effect on the number of parasitoids that can be produced when females are ovipositing for a week or two.