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New findings on life history traits of Xenos peckii (Strepsiptera: Xenidae)

  • M. Hrabar (a1), A. Danci (a1), S. McCann (a1), P.W. Schaefer (a2) and G. Gries (a1)...

We studied life history traits of Xenos peckii Kirby (Strepsiptera: Xenidae), a little-known parasite of the paper wasp Polistes fuscatus (Fabricus) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) in North America. We field-collected 24 wasp nests in early July 2012, isolated parasitised wasps, tracked life history events of X. peckii, and recorded such behaviour as emergence of males and mating by normal-speed and high-speed cinematography. To emerge, males first cut the puparium with their mandibles along an ecdysial suture line, and then push aside the pupal cap during emergence. The endoparasitic females engage in active calling (pheromone release) behaviour by slowly inflating their cephalothorax, and then extruding it even farther out of, and tilting it away from, the host wasp abdomen. Seasonal and diel (afternoon) emergence periods of males coincide with seasonal and diel receptivity and calling periods of females. Males approach calling females in a swaying flight with smooth turns. They typically land on the anterior portion of the host wasp's abdomen, and then step backward until they make contact with the cephalothorax of the female. As soon as their mesothoracic legs contact the female's cephalothorax, they curl around it, and the male initiates mating. Thereafter, the female fully retreats and never re-mates.


Nous avons étudié des caractéristiques du cycle biologique de Xenos peckii Kirby (Strepsiptera: Xenidae), un parasite mal connu de la guêpe à papier Polistes fuscatus (Fabricius) (Hymenoptera: Vespidae) en Amérique du Nord. Nous avons récolté 24 nids de guêpes en nature au début de juillet 2012, isolé les guêpes parasitées, suivi les étapes du cycle biologique de X. peckii et enregistré certains comportements, tels que l’émergence des mâles et l'accouplement, par cinématographie à vitesse normale et à haute vitesse. À l’émergence, les mâles coupent d'abord le puparium avec leurs mandibules le long de la ligne de déhiscence et poussent ensuite de côté la calotte de la pupe. Les femelles endoparasites entreprennent des comportements actifs d'appel (par émission de phéromones) en gonflant lentement leur céphalothorax, l'extirpant encore plus vers l'extérieur et le faisant pivoter loin de l'abdomen de la guêpe hôte. Les périodes d’émergence saisonnières et journalières (en après-midi) des mâles coïncident avec les périodes saisonnières et journalières de réceptivité et d'appel des femelles. Les mâles s'approchent des femelles en appel en un vol sinueux à virages en douceur. Ils se posent typiquement sur la partie antérieure de l'abdomen de la guêpe hôte et reculent jusqu’à ce qu'ils entrent en contact avec le céphalothorax de la femelle. Dès que les pattes mésothoraciques du mâle touchent le céphalothorax de la femelle, elles se replient autour de lui et le mâle commence l'accouplement. Ensuite, la femelle se retire totalement et ne s'accouple plus.

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Subject editor: Heather Proctor

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The Canadian Entomologist
  • ISSN: 0008-347X
  • EISSN: 1918-3240
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