Research Summary: Reevaluation of the Value of Autoparasitoids in Biological Control
Autoparasitoids with the capacity of consuming primary parasitoids that share the same hosts to produce males are analogous to intraguild predators. The use of autoparasitoids in biological control programs is a controversial matter because there is little evidence to support the view that autoparasitoids do not disrupt and at times may promote suppression of insect pests in combination with primary parasitoids. We found that Encarsia sophia, a facultative autoparasitoid, preferred to use heterospecific hosts as secondary hosts for producing males. The autoparasitoids mated with males originated from heterospecifics may parasitize more hosts than those mated with males from conspecifics. Provided with an adequate number of males, the autoparasitoids killed more hosts than En. formosa, a commonly used parasitoid for biological control of whiteflies. This study supports the view that autoparasitoids in combination with primary parasitoids do not disrupt pest management and may enhance such programs. The demonstrated preference of an autoparasitoid for heterospecifics and improved performance of males from heterospecifics observed in this study suggests these criteria should be considered in strategies that endeavor to mass-produce and utilize autoparasitoids in the future.