This is a question for any biologists who happen to tune in. In 1981 I was building a house in Massachusetts and spent many days out doors. That summer a massive infestation of gypsy moths denuded the oaks and their droppings fell like rain. The next summer I found a few dead caterpillars, turned into little bags of pus by a fungus called Entomophaga maimaiga. I gave the parasite a leg up by collecting the dead gypsy moths, making a puree of them and freezing jars of this puree to paint on my trees the next season. By 1984, when the moths were picking the trees in the north part of town clean, I hardly saw any damage. My neighborhood has been nearly free of the pests since then. My observation is that humid weather favors the fungus and so drought is when the trees are hit the hardest both for water and from the damned moths. I have a way to mist my woods if need be to insure the survival of my cultured fungi but it has not been necessary yet. I imagine the local moth and fungus populations are now locked in an evolutionary war.
Since selection of fittest requires a reasonably consistent application of some "selection pressure" to prevail in the environment, Darwinian success comes from a reaction to circumstances. This means that the great survivors often have succeeded by doing what humans caution themselves NOT to do: plan and provision for winning the previous war. A species that can manipulate genes in anticipation has a huge advantage in the world as Darwin has explained it to us.
The Question: In the natural evolution battles, does any advantage go to the first antagonist that can nearly wipe out its nemesis? Once ahead, do they stay ahead? Is the logic entirely different for host/parasite compared to two species competing for the same resource or niche?
How far can one stretch a generalization? I know that if you only see Darwin's idea as promoting individuals that can outfight, out forage or outf__k, you miss the whole idea of cooperative adaptation being selected...its a natural mistake for conservatives to make. But when evolution driven by the competion of host/parasite is the context, can you just assume an arms-race like spiral where the balance see-saws from time to time as long as the environment is supporting the host? Probably not that simple but there are certainly applications if it is: I want biological control of winter moths which are presently denuding whole forests in not-too-distant parts of Massachusetts...I want to head them off with a well tuned parasite before they get started. After that, if things are so simple and there is a first mover advantage, the blighters will be held in check as they battel with the germs I give them.