- (1) Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, grid.6341.0
- (2) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
Biological control of pests in agroecosystems could be enhanced by combining multiple natural enemies. However, this approach might also compromise the control efficacy through intraguild predation (IGP) among the natural enemies. Parasitoids may be able to avoid the risk of unidirectional IGP posed by entomopathogenic fungi through selective oviposition behavior during host foraging. Trybliographa rapae is a larval parasitoid of the cabbage root fly, Delia radicum. Here we evaluated the susceptibility of D. radicum and T. rapae to two species of generalist entomopathogenic fungi, Metarhizium brunneum isolate KVL 04-57 and Beauveria bassiana isolate KVL 03-90. Furthermore, T. rapae oviposition behavior was assessed in the presence of these entomopathogenic fungi either as infected hosts or as infective propagules in the environment. Both fungi were pathogenic to D. radicum larvae and T. rapae adults, but with variable virulence. When host patches were inoculated with M. brunneum conidia in a no-choice situation, more eggs were laid by T. rapae in hosts of those patches compared to control and B. bassiana treated patches. Females that later succumbed to mycosis from either fungus laid significantly more eggs than non-mycosed females, indicating that resources were allocated to increased oviposition due to perceived decreased life expectancy. When presented with a choice between healthy and fungal infected hosts, T. rapae females laid more eggs in healthy larvae than in M. brunneum infected larvae. This was less pronounced for B. bassiana. Based on our results we propose that T. rapae can perceive and react towards IGP risk posed by M. brunneum but not B. bassiana to the foraging female herself and her offspring. Thus, M. brunneum has the potential to be used for biological control against D. radicum with a limited risk to T. rapae populations.