Submitted to: Palynology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/25/2001
Publication Date: N/A
Technical Abstract: The genus Agathirsia is a member of a cosmopolitan subfamily of insects that parasitize larval Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) including crop pests such as corn earworm, Helicoverpa zea. The 30 species of Agathirsia are found in arid regions of Mexico and the southwestern United States. These wasps are relatively small, about 6 to 12 mm long. The tongue length of the species of Agathirsia ranges from around 0.25 to 5.5 mm. Some species of the family Braconidae, in which the Agathirsia belong, have a proboscis and feed readily on flowers of the Asteraceae. When fed a carbohydrate food source such as honey or sugar, there is an increase in survival and fecundity of some parasitic wasps. Parasitoid wasps are commonly found feeding on flowers but too few have been observed or collected to ascertain a reliable trend in host plant range. We examined 127 specimens of Agathirsia: 66 females, 57 males, and 4 sex unknown. Both scanning electron and light microscopy were used for the analyses. Of the 116 pollen types found, 52 were Asteraceae and 7 were Fabaceae. Over 650 pollen grains were counted in the light microscopy samples. Females contained a greater diversity of pollen taxa and more pollen grains; however, there was no significant difference between the sexes. With increased understanding of the needs of these parasitic wasps, it may be possible to include them in biocontrol methods.