We investigated the effects of indirect host stimuli (host fruit and host adult fly residues), direct host stimuli (oviposition), food supply (honey), and mating status on egg maturation of the synovigenic parasitoid, Fopius arisanus (Sonan), a highly successful biological control agent that attacks eggs of many tephritid fly pests. Female wasps normally reach a peak of mature egg-load on 4–6 d posteclosion. When providing female wasps with honey, access to these indirect host stimuli or males for 3 d after eclosion did not significantly increase the mature egg-load of the parasitoid on the fourth and sixth day posteclosion compared with the control treatment. When deprived of honey and housed with males, females that had access to indirect host stimuli during the first 3 d after emergence had a significantly higher egg-load on the sixth day than those denied access to direct or indirect host stimuli. The act of oviposition significantly increased the rate of egg maturation and minimized resorption in both the young and 6- to 7-d-old female wasps, regardless of honey supply. However, resorption of eggs by females did not increase their longevity, even when they were deprived of honey. Our results suggest that the effect of indirect host stimuli on egg maturation in this parasitoid is relatively subtle compared with the effect of oviposition and is not easy to detect because of the larger effects of oviposition and possible interaction with factors such as food supply.
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Vol. 96 • No. 4