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    Martin, Stephen J. Carruthers, Jonathan M. Williams, Paul H. and Drijfhout, Falko P. 2010. Host Specific Social Parasites (Psithyrus) Indicate Chemical Recognition System in Bumblebees. Journal of Chemical Ecology, Vol. 36, Issue. 8, p. 855.

    Sramkova, A. and Ayasse, M. 2009. Chemical ecology involved in invasion success of the cuckoo bumblebee Psithyrus vestalis and in survival of workers of its host Bombus terrestris. Chemoecology, Vol. 19, Issue. 1, p. 55.

    Danforth, Bryan N. 1999. Phylogeny of the bee genus Lasioglossum (Hymenoptera: Halictidae) based on mitochondrial COI sequence data. Systematic Entomology, Vol. 24, Issue. 4, p. 377.

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  • Richard M. Fisher (a1) and Blair J. Sampson (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2012

Psithyrus spp. (Hymenoptera: Apidae) are obligate social parasites of bumble bees (Bombus spp.). Morphological and physiological features of P. ashtoni (Cresson) females, which may facilitate the successful usurpation of host nests, were examined. Parasite females were no larger than B. terricola Kirby queens, although they possessed a number of protective modifications to the exoskeleton, as well as increased offensive armament, including larger mandibles and a longer venom gland. Females of P. ashtoni and P. insularis (Smith) possessed a greater number of ovarioles than host queens, and produced smaller eggs. The Dufour’s glands of the two Psithyrus species were significantly larger than those of B. terricola. There appears to have been considerable convergence in the evolution of socially parasitic lifestyles in bumble bees and wasps (Vespula spp.), presumably as a consequence of similar selective pressures operating on parasites belonging to these distantly related but socially similar taxa.


Les Psithyrus spp. (Hymenoptera : Apidae) sont des parasites sociaux obligatoires des bourdons (Bombus spp.). Les caractéristiques morphologiques et physiologiques des femelles de P. ashtoni (Cresson) qui peuvent favoriser l’usurpation des nids de leurs hôtes ont fait l’objet d’une étude. Les femelles parasites ne sont pas plus grosses que les reines de B. terricola Kirby, mais leur exosquelette comporte plusieurs modifications protectrices et elles possèdent plus d’armes offensives, notamment des mandibules plus grandes et une glande à venim plus longue. Les femelles de P. ashtoni et de P. insularis (Smith) ont aussi un plus grand nombre d’ovarioles que les reines hôtes et produisent des oeufs plus petits. Les glandes de Dufour des deux espèces de Psithyrus sont significativement plus grandes que celles de B. terricola. Il semble y avoir eu beaucoup de convergence dans l’évolution du mode de vie des parasites sociaux chez les bourdons et les quêpes (Vespula spp.), probablement à la suite de pressions de sélection similaires opérées sur des parasites appartenant à des taxons peu apparentés, mais semblables par leur mode de vie social.

[Traduit par la rédaction]

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The Canadian Entomologist
  • ISSN: 0008-347X
  • EISSN: 1918-3240
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-entomologist
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