Morphological defense of the egg mass of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) affects parasitic capacity and alters behaviors of egg parasitoid wasps.
The fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, is a dangerous pest of cereals originating from the tropical and subtropical parts of the Americas. It has invaded over a hundred countries and is spreading rapidly throughout East Asia. Biological control programs are a "model strategy" for the control of invasive pests. Egg parasitoids Telenomus remus and Trichogramma pretiosum are viewed as candidates for the control of S. frugiperda. The aim of this study was to evaluate the behavioral patterns and parasitism efficacy of Te. remus, Tr. pretiosum, and Trichogramma dendrolimi on S. frugiperda egg masses with and without scales. The proportion of parasitism by Te. remus was significantly higher than that by Tr. dendrolimi and Tr. pretiosum. The proportion of parasitism by Tr. pretiosum and Tr. dendrolimi on egg masses with scales was significantly lower than that on egg masses without scales. However, Te. remus had a similar proportion of parasitism on egg masses with and without scales. Residence time, oviposition time, oviposition frequency, risk of host being found, and risk of parasitism by Te. remus were significantly higher than the corresponding parameters of Tr. pretiosum and Tr. dendrolimi. Tr. pretiosum females exhibited a higher residence time, oviposition time, oviposition frequency, risk of host being found, and risk of parasitism than those of Tr. dendrolimi females. In addition, Te. remus females often crept into the scale layer covering the egg masses, whereas Tr. dendrolimi and Tr. pretiosum females did not; they could only parasitize the eggs located on the periphery of the egg mass. Both Te. remus and Tr. pretiosum females had similar proportions of superparasitism, which were significantly higher than that of Tr. dendrolimi. Therefore, Te. remus is the dominant egg parasitoid of S. frugiperda and this has important implications for developing augmentative biological control strategies for S. frugiperda.