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Contrasting Brood-Sex Ratio Flexibility in Two Opiine (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) Parasitoids of Tephritid (Diptera) Fruit Flies

Alvarenga, Clarice Diniz, Dias, Vanessa, Stuhl, Charles, Sivinski, John
Journal of insect behavior 2016 v.29 no.1 pp. 25-36
Anastrepha, Diachasmimorpha longicaudata, adults, daughters, females, fruit flies, hosts, insect behavior, interspecific variation, larvae, males, mass rearing, mating competitiveness, natural enemies, parasitoids, prediction, sex allocation, sex ratio
Mass-rearing of fruit fly parasitoids for augmentative release would be more economical if production could be biased towards females. If sex ratios are ever to be manipulated under rearing conditions it is important to determine if, then understand why, sex ratio flexibility exists. Unequal brood-sex ratios are common in parasitic Hymenoptera and two reasons are generally advanced for such cases: 1) avoidance of Local Mate Competition (LMC) predicts that the number of females exploiting a host-patch can influence the optimal sex ratio of their offspring; and 2) one sex is more likely to develop under a particular set of physical/competitive conditions. We hypothesized that LMC is more often encountered in relatively uncommon species with coarse-grained distributions. As a result, isolated females of such species would be more likely to expect future LMC to be high and to bias offspring sex ratios towards females. We proposed that the opiine braconid Utetes anastrephae is such a coarse-grained species and compared its responses to differences to LMC (isolated females and those paired with a conspecific competitor) with those of another opiine, Diachasmimorpha longicaudata believed to have a finer-grained distribution. Adult sex ratios were mutable in D. longicaudata and U. anastrephae and, as predicted by avoidance of LMC, males were relatively more abundant among the paired females in both species. However, superparasitized hosts yielded relatively more daughters, perhaps because female larvae are superior intrinsic competitors. Contrary to prediction, there was no suggestion that U. anastrephae was more likely to than D. longicaudata to avoid LMC. While these results did not reveal any species differences in sex-allocation patterns or suggest any modifications to the present practice of fruit fly mass-rearing for augmentative release they did provide new information regarding U. anastrephae, a widespread natural enemy of Anastrepha spp. about which relatively little is known.