Parasitoids

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Parasitoids of ants may occupy a variety of ecological niches within their host ant colony. Most are internal parasites of ant brood and ant adults. Many are hymenopterans and dipterans as well as Strepsipterans. There is another subset of parasitoids that attack myrmecophiles and other organisms living with the ants (eg. Horismenus, Microdonophagus). Ant parasitoids are a possible agent for biocontrol of pest ants. Most parasitoids are obscure and poorly known. Some species attack ants as well as other insect hosts.

Contents

Acarina

Diptera

Phoridae

Apocephalus

The genus Apocephalus is a large group of phorid flies that are nearly all parasitoids of ants.

Cremersia

There are 17 species in this genus.

Diocophora

There are fifteen species in this genus of Phoridae that attack ants.

Dohrniphora

Three species decapitate the head of Odontomachus

Ecitoptera

There are 14 species in this genus.

Lucianaphora

There is a single species in this genus

Macrocerides

There are 11 species in this genus.

Megaselia

Myrmosicarius

There are 18 species in this genus.

Neodohrniphora

There are 26 species in this genus.

Pseudacteon

There are 73 species in this genus.

Rhyncophoromyia

There are 11 species in this genus.

Xanionotum

There are 13 species in this genus.

Hymenoptera

Encertidae

Arketypon

There is a single species found with ants.

Blanchardiscus

There is a single myrmecophilous species in this parasitic genus.

Eucharitidae

Eucharitidae parasitize the immature stages of Formicidae and are among the most diverse hymenopteran parasitoids of eusocial insects. Females are oviparous and proovigenic and lay their eggs inside or on plant tissues, either individually or in masses. They oviposit away from the host, with the active first instar larva (planidium) responsible for getting into the ant nest through various associations with foraging adult ants. Once in contact with the larval ant host, the planidium either remains as an external parasite or burrows into the host. Upon pupation of the host, the larva migrates to the ventral region of the thorax, just posterior to the legs of the newly formed pupa, then resumes development through two additional instars. The adults emerge and leave the nest on their own or may be carried by the ants and deposited in the accumulation of colony waste.

Worldwide, approximately 700 Eucharitidae species attack five subfamilies across the ant phylogeny.

Akapalinae

Akapalinae Bouček, 1988: 517. Type species: Akapala Girault.

Akapala

There are two Australian species in this genus.

Eucharitinae

Eucharitinae is a subfamily of chalcid wasps in the family Eucharitidae with 50 genera. Eucharitid Wasps biology and host ants.

Ancylotropus

There are five species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants.

Apometagea

There is a single species in this genus.

Athairocharis

There are two species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants in the genus Anoplolepis.

Austeucharis

There are thirteen species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants. Host ants are Myrmecia.

Babcockiella

There are four species in this genus.

Carletonia

There is a single species in this genus. Specimens collected from Costa Rica and Panama.

Chalcura

There are twenty eight species in this genus.

Cherianella

There are seven species in this genus.

Colocharis

There are three species in this genus.

Cyneucharis

There is a single species in this genus.

Dicoelothorax

There are two species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants. Host ants: Ectatomma brunneum

Dilocantha

There are five species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants.

Eucharis

There are forty six species in this genus.


Eucharissa

There are six species in this genus, all are from South Africa.

Galearia

There are two species in this genus. From Argentina and Brazil.

Hydrorhoa

There are seven species in this genus.

Isomerala

There are three species in this genus.

Kapala

There are sixteen species in this genus.

Lasiokapala

There are two species in this genus.

Latina

There are four known species of Latina with three known in Argentina and one from Venezuela. Like all members of the Euchratidae, Latina wasps are ant parasitoids. The wasp lays eggs on the undersides of leaves near the nests of Ponerine ants. Within a few days the eggs hatch into planidial larvae that are mobile and can leap. They enter the ant colony, most likely being carried by, or riding on, the ants. Once inside, they seek out ant larvae as hosts. There the planidia attach to ant host larvae or prepupae where they feed. On completing their development they emerge, leaving the remains of the ant larva.

Leurocharis

There is a single species in this genus.

Lirata

There are six species in this genus.

Liratella

There is a single species in this genus from Paraguay.

Lophyrocera

There are six species in this genus.

Mateucharis

There are three species in this genus.

Mictocharis

There is a single species in this genus.

Mimistaka

There is a single species in this genus.

Neolirata

There are three species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants.

Neolosbanus

There are sixteen species in this genus.

Neostilbula

There is a single species in this genus.

Obeza

There are eight described species in Obeza.

Palaeocharis

There is a single species from Baltic Amber.

Parakapala

There are three species in this genus.

Parapsilogastrus

There are five species in this genus.

Pogonocharis

There is a single species in this genus.

Pseudochalcura

There are fifteen species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants.

Pseudometagea

There are eight species in this genus.

Psilocharis

There are nine species in this genus.

Rhipipalloidea

There are two species in this genus.

Saccharissa

There are four species in this genus.

Schizaspidia

There are twenty nine species in this genus.

Stilbula

There are twenty nine species in this genus. Camponotus is the suspected host ant for many species.

Stilbuloida

There are two species in this genus.

Striostibula

There is one species in this genus.

Substilbula

There are four species in this genus.

Thoracantha

This genus is comprised of three species.

Thoracanthoides

There is a single species in this genus.

Tricoryna

There are fifteen species from Australia.

Zulucharis

There are seven species in this genus. Reared from cocoons of Camponotus sp..

Gollumiellinae

Gollumiellinae are unique in that they hook their eggs onto the plants and connect a ropey secretion to them, which stand erect. This acts as an attraction mechanism for Paratrechina ants. Gollumiellinae larvae burrow into the hosts' thoraces and feed there. The rest of its life cycle is similar to the aforementioned life cycle of eucharitids. Two Indo‐Pacific genera are included here.

Anorasema

There are two species in this genus.

Gollumiella

There are nine species in this genus.

Oraseminae

Oraseminae constitutes one of the major lineages of the family Eucharitidae, with the estimated number of species approaching 200 (Heraty 2002), all of which are parasitoids of ants (Hymenoptera: Formicidae). There are verified host records of Oraseminae attacking six genera in the ant subfamily Myrmicinae and dubious records on Ecitoninae and Formicinae. In all known Oraseminae, the planidium burrows just under the larval cuticle, usually on the dorsal thoracic region, and the larva then feeds and expands (sometimes over 100× its original size) without changing instars (Wheeler, 1907; Heraty, 2000). After the ant pupates, the wasp migrates to the ventral region of the thorax and develops through its second and third instars, which results in a desiccated living ant pupa that cannot continue its development (Wheeler, 1907; Clausen, 1940a; Heraty & Murray, 2013). All myrmicine ants have naked pupae (lacking cocoons), and thus, parasitoid larvae are exposed throughout their development. The exact means by which the planidia infiltrate the ant colony have never been directly observed; however, it is presumed that planidia gain access by targeting one of the ants’ food sources. Proposed mechanisms include random attachment to foraging ants, phoretic attachment to an intermediate host (prey item) such as immature leafhoppers or thrips, or aggregating near or in extrafloral nectaries (EFNs) of plants and being picked up by feeding ant workers (Clausen, 1941; Das, 1963; Wilson & Cooley, 1972; Johnson et al., 1986; Carey et al., 2012; Herreid & Heraty, 2017). In the latter case (and perhaps all cases), the planidia are proposed to be transported by the adult ants within the infrabuccal pocket in their mouthparts and passed to the ant larvae via trophallaxis (Herreid & Heraty, 2017). With any of these nest infiltration methods, a tight tritrophic association is required, in which the plant has to be available and a suitable host for both the wasp and foraging ants.

Australosema

There are four species in this genus.

Cymosema

There are two species in this genus.

Hayatosema

There are eight species in this genus.

Ibitya

There are two species in this genus from Madagascar.

Indosema

There is a single species in this genus.

Ivieosema

There are four species in this genus.

Leiosema

There are two species in this genus.

Losbanus

There are five species in this genus.

Matantas

There is a single species in this genus from New Caledonia.

Orasema

There are 112 species in this genus.

Orasemorpha

There are nine species in this genus.

Timioderus

There are five species in this genus.

Zuparka

There are two species in this genus which are Parasitoids of ants. There are two species in this genus from Madagascar.

Eulophidae

The Eulophidae are a large family of hymenopteran insects, with over 4,300 described species in some 300 genera.

Eulophids are separable from most other Chalcidoidea by the possession of only four tarsomeres on each leg, a small, straight protibial spur (as opposed to the larger, curved one in most other chalcidoids), and by antennae with two to four funicle segments and at most 10 antennomeres.

Entedoninae

Entedoninae is a subfamily of wasps in the family Eulophidae which includes over 90 genera. Only a few species are associated with ants.

Horismenus

There are two species associated with ants in this parasitoid genus of more than 400 species.

Microdonophagus

There are three species in this parasitoid genus.

Myrmokata

There is a single species in this parasitoid genus of Eulopidae.

Pediobius

There is a single species in this parasitoid genus of Eulopidae.

Eurytomidae

Unlike most chalcidoids, the larvae of many are phytophagous (feeding in stems, seeds, or galls), while others are more typical parasitoids, though even then the hosts are usually found within plant tissues. They are found throughout the world in virtually all habitats, and a few are considered pests. They tend to be dull and not metallic, and heavily punctured, with very thick, collar-like pronota.

Camponotophilus

Strepsiptera

Strepsipteran Associates

Caenocholax

Lychnocolax

Myrmecolax

Stichotrema

REFERENCES

  • C. P. Clausen, “The oviposition habits of the Eucharidae (Hymenoptera),” Journal of theWashington Academy of Sciences, vol. 30, no. 12, pp. 504–516, 1940.
  • Gahan, A.B. A contribution to the knowledge of the Eucharidae (Hymenoptera: Chalcidoidea). JOURBOOK: Proceedings of the United States National Museum VOLUME: 88 PAGES: 425-458. (1940).
  • Lachaud, J.P., Lenoir, A. and Hughes, D. P. 2013. Ants and their parasites 2013. Psyche 2013: 1-5.
  • Torréns, J., Heraty, J.M., Fidalgo, P. 2008. Biology and description of a new species of Lophyrocera Cameron (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae from Argentina. Zootaxa 1871: 56-62.
  • Torréns, J., Heraty, J.M., Murray, E.A., & Fidalgo, P. (2016). Biology and phylogenetic placement of a new species of Lasiokapala Ashmead from Argentina (Hymenoptera: Eucharitidae). Systematic Entomology, 41.