Plodia interpunctella (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) is a cosmopolitan insect infesting a broad range of commodities, including raw or processed cereal. It has a high fecundity and short generation time, making it a useful tool in testing host-parasitoid hypotheses. The current study examined the interactions between trophic levels during parasitism and host location by Habrobracon hebetor Say (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) within a closed environment by carrying out multiple tests to evaluate the role of refuge and host instar, on the mortality of P. interpunctella and on the emergence of H. hebetor. Results showed that H. hebetor was able to parasitize all instars (first through fourth) of P. interpunctella, but significantly fewer early instars (first through fourth) were parasitized. Parasitized third and fourth instars were more profitable to H, hebetor, irrespective of refuge or choice factors, as significantly more adult parasitoids emerged from third and fourth instars. H. hebetor females consistently showed a preference for fourth instars of P. interpunctella when they were offered a choice between early and late host instars in arenas both with and without a refuge. Generally, parasitization of early instars was higher in no-choice than in choice tests. The behavior of H. hebetor in relation to host choice and its influence on the pest mortality are discussed.
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Vol. 102 • No. 2