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Oecologia. 1981 May;49(2):201-206. doi: 10.1007/BF00349188.

Effect of group size on parasitism in a natural population of the Baltimore checkerspot Euphydryas phaeton.

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Department of Zoology, University of Maryland, 20742, College Park, Maryland, USA.


The effect of group size of early instars on parasitism of Euphydryas phaeton (Nymphalidae) was examined. Different numbers of larvae were stocked per web to determine the effect of group size on parasitism. Larval aggregations of moderate size (the size occurring naturally) had the least parasitism. Larger larval groups had a disproportionately high rate of parasitism. The major larval parasitoids located vulnerable larvae within webs, instead of attacking larvae available on the outside of webs. Parasitism rates were similar for larvae of damaged and undamaged webs, a consequence of the behavior and location of larvae in the webs. Lower limit to group size was a function of facilitation of larval numbers in reaching the first feeding site, the top of the host plant. Feeding facilitation by larval aggregations was not a factor in larval survival or growth.


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