The aim of the study was to investigate the attractiveness to herbivores and parasitoids of two cultivars of Brassica oleracea L., namely, B. oleracea variety acephala (kale) and B. oleracea variety capitata (cabbage), that exhibit differences of morphological and biochemical traits. To this end, field samplings were replicated at seven localities in Galicia (northwestern Spain). Three specialist and three generalist lepidopteran species were sampled. In total, 7,050 parasitoids were obtained, belonging to 18 genera and 22 species. The results showed that 1) parasitism rate and parasitoid species richness changed with locality and was higher in cabbage, although this crop had lower herbivore abundance; 2) the proportion of specialist herbivores was higher in cabbage crops, whereas generalists dominated in kale crops; 3) the abundance of the parasitoids Telenomus sp. (Hymenoptera, Scelionidae), Cotesia glomerata L. (Hymenoptera: Braconidae), and Diadegma fenestrale (Holmgren) (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae) was higher in kale crops; and 4) parasitism rate of Pieris rapae larvae and pupae and Mamestra brassicae eggs were higher in kale crops. In contrast with the notion that plant structural complexity provides physical refuge to the hosts and can interfere with parasitoid foraging, parasitism rate was higher on cabbage plants, which form heads of overlapped leaves. Possibly, different chemical profiles of cultivars also influenced the host-parasitoid relationship. These results suggest that top-down and bottom-up forces may enhance cabbage crops to better control herbivore pressure during the studied season. In Spain, information on natural occurring parasitoid guilds of Brassica crops is still scarce. The data provided here also represent a critical first step for conservation biological control plans of these cultivations.
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Vol. 106 • No. 3