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Feeding and Siblicidal Cannibalism in a Male Parasitic Wasp (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)

Leif D. Deyrup, Robert W. Matthews and Mark Deyrup
The Florida Entomologist
Vol. 89, No. 2 (Jun., 2006), pp. 135-140
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4092457
Page Count: 6
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Feeding and Siblicidal Cannibalism in a Male Parasitic Wasp (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae)
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Abstract

Melittobia digitata Dahms is a small parasitic wasp known for its lethal male combat but subject to controversy regarding the occurrence of male feeding and cannibalistic feeding in particular. Here we report our observations supporting siblicidal cannibalism. To test the ability of a male's capability to feed we smeared sugary dye on the wasps' mouthparts and observed the dye passing through the digestive system to produce colored feces, confirming that males have a complete digestive tract. To document siblicidal feeding we injected other males with water-soluble dye, and paired them with undyed males. Undyed winners that appeared to feed on dyed losers were monitored; dye was evident in their feces. Finally, to determine if males benefit from feeding, we compared the longevity of artificially fed and unfed males; fed males lived significantly longer than non-fed males (Mann-Whitney U test = 81.5, $N_1 = 26$, $N_2 = 26$, P < 0.001). We discuss possible reasons for the comparative rarity of siblicidal cannibalism and its fitness implications. /// Melittobia digitata Dahms es una avispa parasitoide conocida por sus combates letales entre machos pero que $est\acute{a}$ sujeta a controversia respecto a la existencia de alimentacion por estos in general, y canibalismo en lo particular. Se reportan $aqu\acute{i}$ nuestros hallazgos en cuanto a canibalismo. Para probar la habilidad de un macho para comer se le unto una pasta azucarada coloreada en las partes bucales de la avispa. Se $observ\acute{o}$ pasar a $trav\acute{e}s$ del sistema digestivo para producir heces de color, confirmando así que los machos tienen un sistema digestive completo. Para documentar canibalismo entre hermanos se $inyect\acute{o}$ a otros machos un colorante soluble en agua y se colocaron con machos normales. Se monitorearon los ganadores no coloreados parecieron alimentarse sobre los perdedores coloreados; el colorante era evidente en sus heces. Finalmente, se $determin\acute{o}$ el beneficio de alimentarse, comparando la longevidad de machos alimentados y no alimentados (artificialmente); los machos alimentados vivieron significativamente más tiempo que los no alimentados (Prueba U de Mann-Whitney = 81.5, $N_1 = 26$, $N_2 = 26$, P < 0.001). Discutimos razones posibles para la rareza del canibalismo entre hermanos y sus implicaciones adaptativas.

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