Most whitefly parasitoids kill whiteflies in one of two ways, by piercing the whitefly body with the ovipositor and laying an egg or by piercing the body and feeding on host fluids. The effects of food deprivation on host-feeding and parasitizing capacity of the whitefly parasitoids Eretmocerus melanoscutus and Encarsia formosa (Hymenoptera: Aphelinidae) were determined in this study. We investigated the effects of various food-deprivation durations (0, 3, 6, 10, and 24 h, and 20% honey solution offered) before being released on the host mortality and parasitism by these species, using fourth-instar Bemisia tabaci (Homoptera: Aleyrodidae) nymphs as test hosts. Er. melanoscutus that were food deprived for 6 h fed on more hosts than those that were food deprived for 0 and 10 h and those that were fed only on honey solution. En. formosa was less sensitive to food deprivation, there being no significant changes in host feeding and parasitism. These species' differences were further confirmed by using third instars of B. tabaci, and both parasitoid species that were food deprived for 6 h fed on more hosts and parasitized similar or more hosts than those that were not food deprived. We also confirmed that Er. melanoscutus that were food deprived for 6 h killed significantly more whiteflies by host feeding and parasitism combined than the nonfood-deprived Er. melanoscutus. However, there were no significant differences in longevity between food-deprived and nonfood-deprived parasitoids of either species. We concluded that the effectiveness of Er. melanoscutus to biological control whitefly nymphs could be improved by starving them for 6 h prior to release.
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