Abstract The dipteran parasitoid Emblemasoma auditrix locates its host acoustically. Analysis showed that phonotactic female flies usually carry fully developed larvae within their uteri. The mean number of larvae per female at the beginning of the season was 37.9 (range from 10 to 50). The number of larvae decreased rapidly with increasing singing activity of the host cicada ( Okanagana rimosa). In high-density host populations the parasitoid is likely to become egg-limited. A possible selective phonotactic responsiveness depending on the number of larvae or the age of the female was tested with song models. Phonotaxis depended on both the temporal structure and the frequency content, but in the field no correlation was found between the number of larvae and the preferences for the acoustic signal. Experiments in the laboratory showed that flies without host contact broadened their phonotactic stimulus range with age.