Age and parasitism status of Tuta absoluta eggs alter the foraging responses of the predator Nabis pseudoferus.
We studied the effect of Trichogramma brassicae Bezdenko (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae) parasitism of Tuta absoluta Meyrick (Lepidoptera: Gelechiidae) eggs on the foraging behavior of Nabis pseudoferus Remane (Hemiptera: Nabidae) feeding on T. absoluta eggs of different ages. Older parasitized eggs (48-72 h old) were rejected after probing with the probosis. A separate experiment showed that probing did not harm developing parasitoids. Bugs greatly reduced their feeding times on older parasitized eggs and spent more time grooming and probing eggs and leaves. Predators exhibited a type III functional response to 24 h-old eggs, but a type II response to older eggs, whether parasitized or not. 24 h-old eggs suffered higher attack rates, and required less handling time than older eggs. Although the predatory efficiency of N. pseudoferus was reduced in the presence of parasitized eggs, the partial refuge enjoyed by T. brassicae in older eggs may permit an additive impact on the pest, and should facilitate the joint augmentation of both species against T. absoluta.