Effect of pre-release conditioning on parasitoid host searching behaviour
Abstract: When parasitoids are mass-released into an unfamiliar cropping environment, theirinitially weak response to herbivore-induced crop odours may cause many of them to die orabandon the cropping environment without finding and parasitizing a suitable hosts. This isexpected to be especially pronounced at low pest densities. The host searching efficacy ofparasitoids may be improved through associative learning. Here we describe experiments inwhich we tested the effect of pre-release conditioning of parasitoids on their searchingefficacy for mealybug-infested plants. This study shows that there is a good potential forimproving the ability of Anagyrus pseudococci and Leptomastix dactylopii to find mealybuginfestedplants by pre-release conditioning. Further research will focus on the development ofan easy-to use conditioning method for mealybug parasitoids that can be used for practicalapplication.