In solitary parasitoid species, superparasitism incurs a high cost because only one individual can emerge per host. While avoiding already-parasitized hosts seems advantageous, it requires an ability to discriminate between parasitized and unparasitized hosts. The ability to discriminate can be based on physical or chemical cues or signal associated either internally or externally with a given host. The type of stimuli used to recognize parasitized hosts generally depends on the features of these hosts but also on costs and benefits associated with reusing them. Some local factors such as mortality rate of females, host availability, and competition level can influence this trade-off. In species that occupy a large geographic range, local conditions may favor either external or internal mechanisms of host discrimination. We describe the behaviors associated with host discrimination in Pachycrepoideus vindemmiae Rondani (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae), a solitary pupal parasitoid of cyclorraphous dipteran species. To detect potential intraspecific variability in their host discrimination behavior, we compared two P. vindemmiae populations originating from different geographical areas in France. Our results revealed different host discrimination strategies in both populations and indicated a potential trade-off between the speed and the accuracy of host discrimination. One population discriminated hosts externally (faster but less accurately), whereas the other discriminated internally (more slowly but more accurately). In our experimental conditions, these two strategies resulted in differences in the fitness gains of both populations. The ecological conditions that could have selected for such differences in the host discrimination and oviposition strategies of the two populations remain to be investigated.
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