Parasitoid reproduction is often limited by disposable time for accessing hosts or egg availability. In the case of synovigenic parasitoids (which mature eggs during their lifetime), theory predicts that egg limitation is infrequent because they are able to replenish their egg supply throughout life. However, this theory does not contemplate the effect of superparasitism on egg load. If superparasitism is applied as a strategy for modulating offspring sex ratio, as extra eggs are normally deposited in each host, it is to be expected that females experience egg limitation, especially when host density is high. In this article, the effect of host density on egg load, oviposition, and sex ratio in the tephritid parasitoid Diachasmimorpha longicaudata (Ashmead) was investigated. Specifically we analyzed the rate of oviposition per host and adjustments in offspring sex ratio in response to changes in host density and how these affect egg load. Parasitoids maintained a similar rate of oviposition, independent of host densities, except when host density fluctuated between 25 and 5 hosts per day. Females increased their oviposition rate and parasitism when confronted with 5 hosts, after having experienced a density of 25 hosts. Offspring sex ratio was biased in favor of females at high host density and with increasing prevalence of superparasitism. Results suggest that parasitoids have a strategy for maintaining high egg load in order to mitigate egg limitation, and for adjusting oviposition rate and offspring sex ratio with reference to previous oviposition experience.
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