Spatial pattern of parasitism in Diatraea saccharalis Fab. (Lep., Crambidae) populations at two different spatial scales in sugarcane fields in Brazil
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The biological control of Diatraea saccharalis is regarded as one of the best examples of successful classical biological control in Brazil. Since the introduction of the exotic parasitoid, Cotesia flavipes, the decrease in D. saccharalis infestation in sugarcane fields has been attributed to the effectiveness of this agent. Native Tachinidae fly parasitoids (Lydella minense and Paratheresia claripalpis) have also been implicated in the success. Quantitative data confirming the actual contribution of these agents to the control of D. saccharalis are, however, rather scant. The purpose of this study was to investigate the spatial pattern of parasitism of these parasitoids in D. saccharalis populations at two large spatial scales (fields and zones). To investigate this subject, a large data set comprising information collected from a sugarcane mill located in the state of São Paulo, Brazil (São João sugarcane mill) was analysed. When regressions between the proportion parasitism against host density were computed, the percentage of significant regressions with either a positive or a negative slope was very small at both spatial scales for both parasitoid species. Regressing the densities of tachinid-parasitized hosts against host densities per field showed that these parasitoids presented a 'moderate aggregative' response to host densities, as 53.33% of the regressions were positively significant. Cotesia flavipes was 'weakly aggregated' on host densities at the field level, because only 33.33% of the regressions were positively significant. At the zone level, neither aggregative nor spatial proportion parasitism responses were evident for either parasitoid species due to the small percentage of significant regressions computed.
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