My name is Minghui Fei from China. I’m a third year PhD student at the Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Netherlands Institute of Ecology. My PhD project is focused on seasonal phenology of interactions involving short-lived annual plants, a multivoltine herbivore and its endoparasitoid wasp.
Host-plant suitability and quality for herbivore (and possibly natural enemy) development is determined by the presence of sufficient levels of nutrients and concentrations of adverse metabolites. In nature, these characteristics are dynamic and can change within individual plants over the course of a growing season. Many species of multivoltine insects (insects that have more than one generation per year) are known to attack short-lived annual plants, i.e. plants that are present for only 1 or 2 months in the field. These short-lived plants may germinate and grow at different times and/or locations during the growing season. In this situation, each herbivore generation is faced with the challenge of leaving the natal patch to find and lay eggs on a different plant species that may be growing some distance from where they themselves developed. At the same time, the quality of the different food plant species on which they feed and grow over the spring and summer seasons may also be highly variable. Under this scenario, we examine developmental interactions involving three naturally occurring wild species of cruciferous plants, Brassica rapa, Sinapis arvensis and Brassica nigra, that exhibit different seasonal phenologies, and a multivoltine herbivore, the large cabbage white butterfly, Pieris brassicae, and its gregarious endoparasitoid wasp, Cotesia glomerata.