Do parasitoid density and host age affect the parasitism of Palmistichus elaeisis (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)?

ABSTRACT: The incidence of lepidopteran defoliants is one of the environmental factors that regulate the productivity of cultivated forests. The parasitoid Palmistichus elaeisis (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) has significant importance for its efficiency in the parasitism of pupae of these Lepidoptera. The objective of this study was to evaluate the development and reproduction of P. elaeisis in different densities of pupae of Spodoptera frugiperda (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) at different ages. Pupae of 24, 48, 72 and 96 hours were exposed at densities of 1:1, 4:1, 10:1, 19:1, 31:1 and 46:1 parasitoids/host, respectively. The parasitoids remained in contact with the pupae for 72 hours in 500 mL plastic pots, conditioned in an air-conditioned room, with temperature of 25 ± 2°C, relative humidity of 70 ± 10% and photoperiod of 12 hours. It was concluded that the density of 10:1 presented great results of parasitism, and further increase of density was not needed. Pupae of 24 and 48 hours had a higher percentage of emergence. Biological variables were affected neither by parasitoid densities nor by host age.