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Keywords:

  • invasive behaviour ;
  • Mischocyttarus ;
  • nest symbionts ;
  • paper wasps ;
  • Polistes ;
  • Polistinae ;
  • Thysanoptera

The insects known as thrips are commonly thought of as flower-living and pestiferous organisms, but we report here a novel interaction between a phlaeothripine thrips species, Mirothrips arbitergen. et sp. nov. and three species of social paper wasps in Brazil. This thrips species breeds inside the wasp colonies, and larval and adult thrips feed on wasp eggs, which become severely damaged. Infested nests can contain up to 300 M. arbiter gen. et sp. nov. individuals. The closest relatives of M. arbiter are two presumably predaceous species: Mirothrips bicolor sp. nov., which inhabits abandoned Cecidomyiidae galls, and Mirothrips analis comb. nov., described from individuals collected in the silken bags of the caterpillars of Psychidae moths. The behaviour exhibited by M. arbiter represents one of the most evolutionarily advanced lifestyles known among Thysanoptera, and we predict that other polistine species serve as hosts for this thrips in Brazil. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 109, 332–341.