AffiliationDepartment of Entomology
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AbstractThese experiments were designed to examine short-range dispersal by the small whitefly parasitoid Eretmocerus eremicus that takes place within the confines of a specifically defined habitat. We were specifically concerned with the impacts of sex and mating status on their dispersal. We hoped to construct predictive models concerning dispersal. In a vertical flight chamber we found that female flight duration was significantly longer (11 times) than that of males and that unmated parasitoids flew approximately three times longer than mated individuals. In field studies 87% of the 4,153 parasitoids captured were males. This occurred in spite of sex ratios being near 1:1 upon release. The difference in dispersal characteristics between males and females may be resource based. It is felt that certain requirements were met within our field plots for males that were not met for females. It is important for males to find mates and they may have done so inside release containers or in close proximity to release sites. While females have a similar requirement, they must also find whitefly hosts to parasitize. It can be assumed that each sex took active steps to accomplish different goals. Males were searching the immediate area of the release sites where mates were plentiful, while females were leaving the 33 ft. radius plots in search of whitefly hosts. We were able to verify models for male dispersal (75% of males were predicted to disperse within 13.5 ft.). Our models predicted that 50% of females would be found within 82 ft. This information will useful when describing movement by E. eremicus and other small insects. It should prove useful when defining release techniques for parasitoids being used as biological control agents.