Chemical Cues Induced from Fly-Oviposition Mediate the Host-Seeking Behaviour of Fopius arisanus (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), an Effective Egg Parasitoid of Bactrocera dorsalis (Diptera: Tephritidae), within a Tritrophic Context

Insects. 2020 Apr 7;11(4):231. doi: 10.3390/insects11040231.


Fopius arisanus is a solitary endoparasitoid that parasitizes a variety of tephritid species. Native to the Indo-Australian region, it is currently exploited worldwide as a biological control agent due to its exceptional efficiency in reducing pest populations. The efficiency of any biological control program is affected by the host location ability of the parasitoids. The present study used a Y-tube olfactometer to test the behavioural responses of female F. arisanus to four fruit species which had undergone different types of damages: undamaged, damaged through Bactrocera dorsalis ovipositioning (i.e., infested), or different levels of mechanical damage. Our results suggest that F. arisanus females were significantly attracted to mangoes and pears (vs. purified air), regardless of their condition; however, whilst infested mangoes did not attract more female parasitoids compared to healthy or mechanically damaged fruits, infested pears attracted significantly more. For citrus fruits and peaches, oviposition damage caused them to be more attractive to parasitoid females. In terms of the longevity of the effects, infested mango fruits remained attractive for up to 5 days after infestation, whereas for infested peaches, pears, and citrus fruits, the attractiveness tended to decrease as time passed. Regarding mechanical damage, mango fruits that had undergone any intensity of damage were equally attractive to parasitoid females; however, peach and citrus fruits with high levels of mechanical damage were more attractive, and pears were found to be most attractive with slight mechanical damage. Additional to the above, we also tested the effect of insecticides on behavioural responses using mangoes. We found that the treatment of infested fruits with lambda-cyhalothrin and cypermethrin remained attractive to F. arisanus females, albeit to different extents, which is in contrast to spinosad, cyantraniliprole, and acetamiprid. Finally, we suggest that the host-searching behaviour of F. arisanus females is mainly mediated by oviposition-induced volatiles, either emitted from the fruit or left by the fruit fly.

Keywords: biological control; fruit types; mechanical damage; olfactory response; oriental fruit fly.