Description and behavioural biology of two Ufens species (Hymenoptera : Trichogrammatidae), egg parasitoids of Homalodisca species (Hemiptera : Cicadellidae) in southern California
The morphology, distribution, and hosts of two egg parasitoids, Ufens principalis Owen sp. n. and U. ceratus Owen sp. n. (Hymenoptera: Trichogrammatidae), are described for the first time. These species are compared to U. niger (Ashmead), the only species of Ufens s. str. currently described from the Nearctic, and diagnostic differences are presented. The behavioural biology of U. principalis, and U. ceratus to a smaller extent, is also described for the first time. Ufens principalis exhibited a rapid and long-distance response in the form of directional flight toward freshly laid eggs of Homalodisca species, its primary hosts in southern California. Parasitism involved aggregations of female U. principalis on fresh Homalodisca egg masses, which remained attractive to U. principalis for a relatively short time. The level of oviposition by U. principalis females was low during most of the day and peaked before sunset in tandem with a peak in Homalodisca oviposition. Oviposition behaviour of U. principalis is described and the distribution of ovipositor probe durations showed that most probes were generally of very short duration. Mating of both Ufens species occurred on the egg mass, with males showing aggressive behaviour towards each other as they competed for emerging females. Ufens ceratus males displayed greater aggression towards other males than U. principalis males. By contrast, fights among U. principalis males involved more individuals and lasted longer than corresponding fights between U. ceratus males.