The effect of hostage, the instar of Bemisia tabaci (Gennadius) parasitized, on the growth and development of Encarsia formosa (Gahan) was studied. E. formosa was able to parasitize and complete its life cycle no matter which instar of B. tabaci (Strain B), [also identified as B. argentifolii (Bellows and Perring)], was provided for oviposition, but parasitoid development was significantly slower when 1st or 2nd instar B. tabaci rather than 3rd or 4th instars were parasitized. Host age influenced the day on which E. formosa nymphs hatching from eggs was first observed. Mean embryonic development was significantly longer when 1st (5.4 days) rather than 2nd, 3rd or 4th instars (4.1, 3.4 and 3.5 days, respectively) were parasitized. The duration of the 1st instar parasitoid and the pupa, but not the 2nd or 3rd instar parasitoid, were also significantly greater when 1st instars were parasitized than when older host instars were parasitized. Interestingly, no matter which instar was parasitized, the parasitoid did not molt to the 3rd instar until the 4th instar host had reached a depth of about 0.23 mm (Stage 4–5) and had initiated the nymphal-adult molt and adult development. Histological studies revealed that whitefly eye and wing structures had either disintegrated or were adult in nature whenever a 3rd instar parasitoid was present. It appears, then, that the molt of the parasitoid to its last instar is associated with the host whitefly's nymphal-adult molt. However, the initiation of the host's final molt, while a prerequisite for the parasitoid's 2nd–3rd instar molt, did not necessarily trigger this molt. In contrast to its significant effect on various aspects of parasitoid development, host instar did not significantly influence the mean size of the parasitoid larva, pupa, or adult. Larval and pupal length and adult head width were similar for all parasitoids, regardless of which host instar was parasitized as was adult longevity. Adult parasitoid emergence was more synchronous when 2nd, 3rd and 4th instars were parasitized than when 1st instars were parasitized. Results are compared with those reported when the greenhouse whitefly, Trialeurodes vaporariorum, was parasitized by E. formosa, and provide possible explanations for why T. vaporariorum is a more suitable host than B. tabaci for E. formosa.
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