The effect of host size on the sex ratio of Syngaster lepidus, a parasitoid of Eucalyptus longhorned borers (Phoracantha spp.)

Andrea L. Joyce, Jocelyn G. Millar, Timothy D. Paine, Lawrence M. Hanks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The solitary larval ectoparasitoid, Syngaster lepidus Brullé, parasitizes the cryptic larvae of two wood-boring beetles, Phoracantha recurva Newman and Phoracantha semipunctata F. The objective of this study was to determine how the female parasitoids allocated the sex of progeny when presented with larval hosts of uniform size classes. Host size was directly correlated with age of the Phoracantha larval hosts. Groups of Phoracantha larvae of a single age class (2-, 3-, 4-, or 5-week-old) were exposed to parasitoids, and sex ratios of the resulting parasitoid progeny from each host age class were determined. A significant relationship was observed among the sizes of P. recurva and P. semipunctata hosts and the sex ratio of emerging parasitoids. Parasitized 2-week-old beetle larvae of both Phoracantha spp. produced only male S. lepidus progeny, whereas older larval hosts produced increasing proportions of female parasitoids (up to ∼80% females from 5-week-old hosts). Two-week-old Phoracantha larvae of both species produced fewer parasitoids than host larvae 3-5-week-old. The size of parasitoid progeny consistently increased with host larval age (size), and female parasitoids were larger than males across all host size classes. Male S. lepidus developed in approximately 25 days from 2-week-old hosts, and 19-21 days in 3-5-week-old hosts. Female S. lepidus developed in 22-25 days, with developmental time increasing with host size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalBiological Control
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002


  • Biological control
  • Eucalyptus
  • Host size
  • Phoracantha recurva
  • Phoracantha semipunctata
  • Sex allocation
  • Sex ratio
  • Syngaster lepidus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agronomy and Crop Science
  • Insect Science


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