P. Rousse, F. Gourdon, M. Roubaud, F. Chiroleu, S. Quilici; Biotic and Abiotic Factors Affecting the Flight Activity of Fopius arisanus, an Egg-Pupal Parasitoid of Fruit Fly Pests. Environ Entomol 2009; 38 (3): 896-903. doi: 10.1603/022.038.0344
Climatic conditions and the physiological state of a parasitoid may alter its host selection behavior and thus its efficiency as a biological control agent. We studied the influence of these parameters on the behavior of Fopius arisanus (Sonan), an egg-pupal parasitoid of many Tephritidae. In the first experiment, we assessed in field cage assays the influence of temperature, humidity, light intensity, barometric pressure, and wind speed. Both flight and parasitism were mainly affected by temperature and humidity. However, because these two factors were strongly correlated in our experiments, the direct influence of each one cannot be specified. Flight activity was affected by variations in barometric pressure. In a second set of experiments, we conducted release and recapture assays with dyed insects to determine the influence of sex, mating status, egg load, age, and starvation on attraction toward infested fruit. Males were not attracted, suggesting that fruit are not a mating site. The egg load seemed to be a major parameter of foraging motivation. Finally, we showed that flight activity strongly decreased after 48 h of starvation. We observed a possible switch to food in the foraging motivation of starved females, but this result was impaired by poor recoveries: <10% of released females were recaptured after 96 h of starvation. We finally discuss the importance of these observations on the efficiency of F. arisanus as a biological control agent in tropical humid areas.