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Prolonged diapause in the ectoparasite Carnus hemapterus (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha, Acalyptratae) – how frequent is it in parasites?


Prolonged diapause is usually interpreted as an adaptation to unpredictable environmental conditions and resource availability. Many parasites usually face highly unpredictable environments, therefore prolonged diapause should be common among these organisms. Here we examine the occurrence and frequency of prolonged diapause in the ectoparasite Carnus hemapterus (Diptera: Cyclorrhapha, Acalyptratae). We found that the studied population is polymorphic with respect to diapause duration. Emergence of carnid flies after 2 and 3 wintering seasons was therefore detected in around 17% and 21% of the samples respectively. The number of flies with prolonged diapause ranked 0·88–50% with respect to the number of flies emerging during the first spring. Both the occurrence of prolonged diapause and the number of flies with a long life-cycle are related to the number of flies emerging during the first spring. The emergence pattern of flies with prolonged diapause was very similar to that observed for flies with a short cycle and occurred in synchrony with the occurrence of hosts. Prolonged diapause has been frequently reported in plant-feeding insects and in some host-parasitoid systems, but this is, to our knowledge, the second report ever on prolonged diapause in true parasites of animals. We discuss the reasons for the apparent rarity of prolonged diapause among these organisms.

Corresponding author
Estación Experimental de Zonas Áridas (CSIC), General Segura 1, E-04001, Almería, Spain. Tel: +34950 281045. Fax: +34950 277100. E-mail:
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