The influence of host distribution, sex, and size on the level of parasitism by Itoplectis conquisitor (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)

JAMES T. CRONIN, University of Maryland
DOUGLAS E. GILL, University of Maryland


Abstract. 1. Parasitism of the bagworm, Thyridopteryx ephemeraeformis Haw. (Lepidoptera: Psychidae), on red cedar was studied at Manassas, Va., U.S.A. 2. Fifteen parasitoids, five of which were hyperparasitoids, attacked the pupal stage of the bagworm. The Ichneumonid Itoplectis conquisitor alone accounted for 58% of the parasitized bagworms. 3. Parasitism by I conquisitor (Say) was inversely related to host size, but independent of host distribution within a tree. Male bagworms experienced disproportionately higher levels of parasitism than females. We conclude that it is small size that renders bagworms susceptible to parasitism rather than sex per se. 4. Ovipositor lengths of I.conquisitor were insufficient to penetrate the larger bagworm hosts (>57 mm); and in fact, as bagworm size increased, the proportion of the I.conquisitor population capable of penetrating the pupa declined abruptly. We suggest that the mechanical difficulties with oviposition, and perhaps the defensive capabilities of larger hosts, are responsible for the relationship between host size and per cent parasitism. 5. I.conquisitor could be an important selective agent for bagworm size at pupation, but it is not likely to act as a significant control agent of population density. Copyright © 1989, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved