Early oviposition experience affects patch residence time in a foraging parasitoid

T. Keasar, M. Ney-Nifle, M. Mangel, S. Swezey

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review


Parasitoids learn olfactory and visual cues that are associated with their hosts, and use these cues to forage more efficiently. Classical conditioning theory predicts that encounters with high-quality hosts will lead to better learning of host-associated cues than encounters with low-quality hosts. We tested this prediction in a two-phase laboratory experiment with the parasitoid Trichogramma thalense Pinto & Oatman (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) and the host Anagasta kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae). Host quality during the first exposure to hosts affected later foraging behavior for some experimental treatments, as predicted. We used a learning model, followed by patch-time optimization, to interpret our findings. We first simulated the parasitoids' host encounters during the experiment, and predicted their estimate of patch quality after each encounter. We then used dynamic optimization to predict the parasitoids' optimal patch residence times. The model reproduces the trends of the experimental results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-132
Number of pages10
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Biological control
  • Dynamic state model
  • Habitat selection
  • Learning
  • Parasitoid
  • Trichogramma thalense

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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