Published online by Cambridge University Press: 25 February 2008
The braconid larval parasitoids Cotesia chilonis (Matsumura), C. flavipes Cameron and a strain of Cotesia sesamiae (Cameron) from coastal Kenya, reared at the International Centre of Insect Ecology and Physiology, were introduced at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture in the Republic of Benin for suitability testing on West African stemborers prior to release. C. chilonis was originally collected in Japan while C. flavipes was imported into Kenya from Pakistan. The host species used was the noctuid Sesamia calamistis (Hampson), the most important noctuid maize pest in the region. All three Cotesia species attacked and successfully developed in 2nd to 6th larval instar of S. calamistis but parasitoid-induced mortality was highest on second instars. On most instars, C. sesamiae and C. flavipes produced larger broods than C. chilonis. Larvae parasitized by C. sesamiae developed to the 6th instar and attained an average larval weight of 353 mg, while larvae parasitized by C. chilonis only molted to the 4th instar and attained a maximum weight of 107 mg. The lower developmental threshold estimated from the non-linear regression of temperature on developmental rate was 15.9, 15.9 and 14.9°C for C. chilonis, C. sesamiae and C. flavipes, respectively, while the maximum temperature was 34.2, 35.2 and 33.8°C, respectively. A maximum of four ovipositions were observed per female during a life span ranging from 1.3 days for C. chilonis and C. flavipes to 1.6 days for C. sesamiae. The largest adult progeny, intrinsic rate of increase and net reproductive rates were recorded at 28°C for all species. However, across temperatures, C. flavipes yielded the highest number of offspring, followed by C. sesamiae and C. chilonis. The sex ratios did not vary significantly with species and temperature. Thus, the reproductive potentials of C. sesamiae and C. flavipes were greater than that of C. chilonis.
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