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Body size is one of the most important life history traits. In mass-provisioning solitary Hymenoptera, the maximum attainable adult size is not under the control of the larva but is limited by the amount of resources provided by the mother. I investigated the effect of the amount of different maternal resources and potentially interfering abiotic (temperature) and biotic (fungus infestation) factors on offspring body size and fat reserves in a solitary digger wasp, the European beewolf, Philanthus triangulum F. (Hymenoptera, Sphecidae). Females provide different resources for their progeny that might influence progeny size (egg, brood cell, and paralysed honey-bees as food). The number of bees provisioned explained the largest proportion of variation in cocoon length. With an increasing number of bees (one to four), progeny gained less weight per bee. Relative fat content increased with size. With a given number of bees, males were smaller than females. The duration of the feeding period was independent of the number of bees in a brood cell but decreased with increasing ambient temperatures (20, 25, 30°C). Cocoon size was influenced by temperature but the effect was not uniform. Cocoons from brood cells containing two and three bees were larger at 25°C than at 20°C; those at 30°C did not differ from those at either lower temperature. However, in brood cells containing one bee, cocoon length was independent of temperature. Sublethal levels of fungus infestation may have a small negative effect on cocoon size. Different temperatures during hibernation (8 vs 13°C) did not affect the size or fat content of emerging adults. These results on a mass-provisioning hunting wasp are compared with the well-studied herbivorous insects.
Oecologia © 2000 Springer