• ectoparasitoid;
  • wasp venom;
  • mode of action;
  • ecdysone;
  • fly development


The action of venom from the ectoparasitic wasp, Nasonia vitripennis, was monitored by examining alterations in patterned muscular movements characteristic of pupariation and eclosion behavior in the flesh fly, Sarcophaga bullata. Venom injected into larvae prior to pupariation caused a dose-dependent delay in pupariation. Eventually, such larvae did pupariate, but puparia were abnormally formed. Barographic records revealed that all elements of pupariation behavior were present in venom-injected larvae, but pupariation behavior was not well synchronized with tanning, thus implying that the venom caused disruption in the temporal organization of central motor programs. When larvae were ligated and injected with venom posterior to the ligature, no response was evident in the posterior region, suggesting that the venom does not directly stimulate muscles or neuromuscular junctions. Injection of exogenous ecdysteroid into venom-injected larvae restored some elements of pupariation behavior, consistent with ecdysone's role in stimulating the release of anterior retraction factor and puparium tanning factor, two factors that are released from the CNS to regulate pupariation. When the venom was injected into newly emerged imagoes, the duration of extrication behavior was shortened, whereas all phases of post-eclosion behavior were lengthened. These observations imply that the venom affects CNS centers that regulate the muscular systems engaged in extrication and post-eclosion behavior. Arch. Insect Biochem. Physiol. 57:78–91, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.