Ecology 76:6 (1995), pp. 1990-1993.
Cronin and Strong (1993a, b) examined the oviposition behavior of Anagarus delicatus Dozier (Hymenoptera: Mymaridae), an egg parasitoid of the leafhopper Prokelisia marginate Van Duzee (Homoptera: Delphacidae). They reported oviposition rates that were lower than predicted if the rate of egg-laying was maximized. Cronin and Strong (1993a) considered, and subsequently rejected, several “rules of thumb” (Stephens and Krebs 1986) as explanations for the observed patterns of patch departure. They observed that hosts on leaves experience density-independent mortality due to leaf senescence. Based on that, they advanced the hypothesis that submaximal oviposition rates in A. delicatus are best explained as risk-spreading by the parasitoid. (That is, by laying a small number of eggs on many leaves, the parasitoid increases the probability that some of her offspring will survive; Cronin and Strong 1993a.) An alternative hypothesis (Rosenheim and Mangel 1994) suggests that by distributing the eggs among several leaves, A. delicatus avoids self-superparasitism. Here, we take a somewhat different approach than those provided above to explain an additional observation of Cronin and Strong (1993a): female wasps rejected most of the hosts that they had probed. In so doing, we argue that rate maximization was an inappropriate prediction for A. delicatus, and in light of the life history parameters of this species, egg limitation is more suitable. Furthermore, egg limitation, when combined with one of the proposed explanations for the distribution of eggs, can explain the high rejection level of potential hosts.
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