Host finding by Uscana lariophaga (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) in stored cowpea: the effect of distance, time interval, host patch size and spatial orientation.
Host finding and parasitization by Uscana lariophaga Steffan, a potential biocontrol agent of the storage pest Callosobruchus maculatus (Fabricius), were investigated in stored cowpea. Host finding was shown to be a function of distance, time, host patch size and the spatial position of U. lariophaga relative to the host patch. Uscana lariophaga females were able to find hosts up to 75 cm horizontal distance from the host patch, which was the largest distance tested. The probability that a host patch was found when an individual U. lariophaga female was released at 2.5 cm horizontal distance from the host patch ranged from 0.6 after 2 h foraging time to 0.9 after 8 h foraging time. At 10 cm from the host patch, host finding probability ranged from 0.2 to 0.45 at these respective foraging times. Finding probabilities doubled compared to horizontal distances when U. lariophaga was released below the host patch, and halved when it was released above the host patch. The negative geotaxic response was shown not to be an artefact of the release method. The median net displacement rate in the direction of the host patch was two beans per hour (1.4 cm h-1). The results suggest that U. lariophaga females start searching for hosts regardless of the quality of the olfactory information they receive. Additional observations indicated that U. lariophaga is adapted to a host with a patchy distribution, which implies that host finding over larger distances is relevant for U. lariophaga.