Fecundity is a key factor in modulating population growth rate, and is of particular significance when considering the invasiveness of introduced species. In insects, fecundity is affected by body size, age, and nutrition. We investigated the potential fecundity of the invasive Asian chestnut gall wasp Dryocosmus kuriphilus Yasumatsu (Hymenoptera: Cynipidae), an introduced parthenogenetic gall former of Asian origin and a global pest of chestnut (Castanea spp.), to better understand its invasiveness. We compared ovarian, egg, and body metrics of adult wasps of different age. We evaluated insect weight, body length, mesosomal and metasomal lengths and widths, hind femur length, number of eggs, and size of eggs in wasps from four age cohorts. Adult weight and metasomal width were positively correlated with number of eggs. Egg load decreased with wasp age, and egg size initially increased before decreasing. Our findings suggest that adult D. kuriphilus, previously reported as proovigenic, may be resorping eggs in the absence of suitable hosts, and reallocating nutritive resources for body maintenance and egg quality to increase fitness, implicating a plasticity in its reproductive strategy. D. kuriphilus may be able to vary its potential fecundity in response to nutrition and host availability, thus increasing its invasiveness.
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Vol. 43 • No. 4