The parasitoid, Verticia fasciventris causes morphological and behavioral changes in infected soldiers of the fungus-growing termite, Macrotermes carbonarius
Neoh, K-Boon.; Lee, C-Yang.
Journal of Insect Science 11: 47
PMID: 21529155 DOI: 10.1673/031.011.4701
The larval parasitoid Verticia fasciventris Malloch (Diptera: Calliphoridae) develops in the head of soldiers of the fungus-growing termite Macrotermes carbonarius (Hagen) (Isoptera: Termitidae). Morphological and behavioral changes in the host were evaluated and the termite castes and stages that were parasitized were identified. The larval emergence process is also described and possible mechanisms for the parasitoid fly's entry into the host body are discussed based on qualitative observations. Only a single larva per host was found. The mature larva pupated outside the host's body by exiting between the abdominal cerci. Parasitized soldiers possess a short and square-shaped head capsule, a pair of notably short mandibles, and a pair of 18-segmented antennae. Although parasitized soldiers were statistically less aggressive than healthy soldiers (P < 0.05), they expressed varying levels of aggression. Both minor and major soldiers can be parasitized and based on evidence from presoldiers, parasitization may begin during the precursor stages of soldiers. However, the stage at which parasitism first occurs has not been determined.