Laboratory experiments were conducted to determine the effect of host instar and feeding status on the egg load of early life stage in Microplitis rufiventris Kokujev (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), a solitary koinobiont endoparasitoid of some noctuid pests. The wasps that developed from fourth or fifth instars of Spodoptera littoralis (Boisduval) larvae were heavier in weight than those from earlier stages. Different numbers of mature eggs were found in the two ovaries of the female wasp. Egg loads, corresponding to fitness, were significantly influenced by female weight and feeding status. However, the interactions between the two treatment factors were not significant. The average number of mature eggs carried by females at eclosion time ranged from 52 eggs in smaller wasps to 62 eggs in larger wasps. Females that were fed had higher egg loads and egg maturation rate than unfed females. However, female wasps were capable of maturing considerable number of eggs without feeding; suggesting that they produce a certain portion of eggs from nutritional reserves that had been stored during larval stage. Female wasps are weakly synovigenic, with an egg maturation at a rate of ≈1.8 eggs per h. Further investigation is required to verify the rate of egg maturation and eventually egg resorption in different stages of adult female M. rufiventris.
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Vol. 104 • No. 2