The sex allocation behavior of the solitary egg parasitoid Telenomus heliothidis Ashmead was investigated by examining the response of females reared in isolation and under crowded conditions. Females reared in isolation adjusted their sex ratio with foundress and host number per patch in accordance with the predictions of local mate competition (LMC) theory. However, females did not shift their sex ratio in response to conspecifics foraging on the same host patch or to contact with previously parasitized hosts. Instead, shifts were associated with encounter rate and a sequence of oviposition. Females maintained under crowded conditions responded to host patches much differently. One-day-old females which had lived under crowded conditions for 24 h produced sex ratios similar to those of continuously isolated females. However, females reared under crowded conditions for 7 days consistently produced unbiased sex ratios, and exhibited a different sequence of oviposition. This shift appeared to be due directly to crowding rather than age, oviposition experience or sperm depletion since the effect could be reversed by subsequent isolation.