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The Evolution of Prey-Carrying Mechanisms in Wasps
Howard E. Evans
Vol. 16, No. 4 (Dec., 1962), pp. 468-483
Published by: Society for the Study of Evolution
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2406179
Page Count: 16
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1. Wasps evolved from parasitoid Hymenoptera, and primitive wasps, like parasitoids, use a single host insect or spider for each offspring. Thus the prey is generally as large as or larger than the wasp. 2. Primitive wasps seize the prey with their mandibles and drag it backwards to the nest. Good examples of this can be found in the families Tiphiidae, Bethylidae, Ampulicidae, and Pompilidae. 3. At a more advanced stage, wasps acquired various mechanisms for straddling their prey and proceeding forward over the substrate. This occurs in many Pompilidae and in some Sphecidae. 4. Most Sphecidae, and all Vespidae, use more than one paralyzed insect or spider per cell; thus the prey is slightly to considerably smaller than the wasp. The prey is carried in flight, primitively held by the mandibles, often assisted by the legs. 5. Four stocks of Sphecidae have advanced to full pedal prey transport; that is, the prey is held by the middle or hind legs or both, unassisted by the mandibles. 6. Two stocks of Sphecidae have advanced still further to abdominal prey carriage. In one of these stocks (a portion of the subfamily Crabroninae), the prey is carried on the sting, which in some cases is barbed. In the other stock (two subgenera of the genus Aphilanthops, subfamily Philanthinae), the apical abdominal segment itself is greatly modified for clamping onto the prey. 7. The more advanced types of prey carriage permit more rapid provisioning of the nest and presumably provide fewer opportunities for predators and parasites to attack the prey in transit; they also enable the wasp to close the nest upon leaving and to reopen it upon returning without depositing the prey. The employment of rapid prey transport in flight also permits wasps to take their prey at a considerable distance from their nesting site.
Evolution © 1962 Society for the Study of Evolution