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A caterpillar of the geometrid moth Thyrinteina leucocerae with pupae of the braconid parasitoid wasp Glyptapanteles sp.
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Hymenoptera
Family: Braconidae
Subfamily: Microgastrinae
Genus: Glyptapanteles
Ashmead, 1904
at least 300 species

Glyptapanteles is a genus of endoparasitoid wasp found in Central and North America.[1] The larvae of the members of Glyptapanteles manipulate their hosts into serving as bodyguards.

Reproduction[change | change source]

Glyptapanteles phytometrae emerging from host Chrysodeixis chalcites

Female Glyptapanteles stick their ovipositor into caterpillar hosts.[2] The eggs hatch inside the caterpillar. The caterpillar feeds and grows normally until the 4th or 5th instar. Then up to 80 fully grown larvae emerge from its body to pupate.[3]

Behaviour changes[change | change source]

After the larvae of Glyptapanteles emerge, the caterpillar takes up position near the cocoons of the pupae, arches its back, and ceases to move or feed. It will occasionally spin silk over the pupae. However, when disturbed, it begins to thrash violently. This behavior is to strike at and repel possible predators of the pupae, so improving the survival odds of the wasp pupae. Only about one in twenty non-parasitized caterpillars responded in this fashion. In 60% of cases, the parasitized caterpillars successfully warded off these potential predators. No longer eating, the affected caterpillar eventually dies.[4]

Mortality rates for pupae not guarded by parasitized caterpillars were significantly higher.[5][6]

Mechanism[change | change source]

In the course of Grosman's research, it was discovered that not all larval Glyptapanteles emerge from their caterpillar host. One or two remain behind and active. Probably these larvae manipulate the host. It is a kind of altruism, since these larvae miss their own chance of pupating in order to protect the brood.[7]

References[change | change source]

  1. "BOLD Systems Taxonomy Browser". Retrieved 2008-07-14.
  2. Marktl, Robert C.; Stauffer, Christian; Schopf, Axel (2002). "Interspecific competition between the braconid endoparasitoids Glyptapanteles porthetriae and Glyptapanteles liparidis in Lymantria dispar larvae". Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata. Blackwell Publishing. 105 (2): 97–109(13). doi:10.1046/j.1570-7458.2002.01038.x. S2CID 83644921.
  3. Branc, Catherine (2008). "Zombie caterpillars controlled by voodoo wasps". NewScientist. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  4. Yong, Ed (2008). "Parasitic wasp turns caterpillars into head-banging bodyguards". Not Exactly Rocket Science. Archived from the original on 2008-06-06. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  5. Hesselberg, Thomas (2008). "Parasite enlists a bodyguard to protect its pupae". Life of Science. Retrieved 2008-07-04.
  6. Grosman, Amir; et al. (2008). "Parasitoid increases survival of its pupae by inducing hosts to fight predators". PLOS ONE. 3 (6): 3. Bibcode:2008PLoSO...3.2276G. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0002276. PMC 2386968. PMID 18523578.
  7. "Parasitoid turns host into bodyguard". Universiteit von Amsterdam Faculty of Science News. 2008. Archived from the original on 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2008-07-04.