The internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of the ribosomal DNA of house flies, Musca domestica L., the stable flies, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.), and four parasitoid species in the genus Muscidifurax (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) were characterized to develop a method based on the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) to better define the role of pteromalid parasitism of pupae of the house fly and stable fly. Two parasitoid-specific primers were designed to anneal to the 5′ end of the 5.8S rRNA gene in the parasitoid species. When paired with a universal primer at the 3′ end of the 18S rRNA, the primers amplified the target ITS1 region in 10 pteromalid species. PCR allowed detection of parasitoid DNA within 24 h after females of Spalangia endius Walker oviposited into house fly puparia. PCR failed to amplify parasitoid DNA or detect parasitism in puparia that were exposed to parasitoid oviposition, allowed to develop 7 d, then killed by freezing and held at 20–24°C for 4 d to allow DNA degradation. Digestion of the PCR products with restriction enzymes produced restriction fragment length polymorphisms that allowed identification of individual parasitoid species. Significantly greater levels of parasitism (P < 0.05) were detected by PCR for two of the five field collection dates in 1997. On the dates when PCR detected higher levels of parasitism than estimates provided by emergence of adult insects from samples taken at Feedlot M in 1997, more than 65% of all puparia in the emergence samples failed to produce an adult insect. Three puparia collected in 1997 produced double PCR bands that corresponded to PCR band sizes of Muscidifurax spp. and Spalangia sp., possibly indicating multiple parasitism or hyperparasitism.
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Vol. 39 • No. 1