Section 38
Chapter 37,397

Behavioral and morphological changes in soldiers of Macrotermes gilvus (Termitidae: Macrotermitinae) parasitized by Misotermes mindeni (Diptera: Phoridae)

Neoh, K-Boon.; Lee, C-Yang.

Environmental Entomology 39(3): 835-840


ISSN/ISBN: 0046-225X
PMID: 20550796
DOI: 10.1603/en09212
Accession: 037396517

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Misotermes mindeni Disney and Neoh is a solitary endoparasitoid of Macrotermes gilvus (Hagen) (Termitidae: Macrotermitinae), exclusively parasitizing the head of major soldiers. In this study, behavioral and morphological changes in the parasitized termite host were evaluated. We also observed the larval parasitoid emerging from the host. We found that parasitism mainly occurred in termite mounds overgrown with grass and mounds that had been broken up previously for other experiments. The parasitized soldiers showed a significantly lower level of interspecific aggressiveness compared with healthy soldiers (P < 0.05). Parasitized soldiers also changed in habitat preference to one isolated chamber of the nest. This might be an adaptive strategy that facilitates parasitoid dispersal, provides protection to parasitoids, and reduces the risk of parasitism to host colony. An abnormally rounded head capsule and remarkably short mandibles are characteristics of a parasitized soldier. The older larval fly stages were found only in major soldiers. We suggest that parasitization may first start in fourth or even earlier larval termite instars. The fly larva develops in the termite soldier's head capsule and pupates inside the host's body.

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