The role of larval aggression and mobility in the transition between solitary and gregarious development in parasitoid wasps


Guy Boivin E-mail:


Models explaining the appearance of gregariousness in insect parasitoids assume the presence of a tolerance gene that enables nonsiblicidal behaviour in gregarious larvae. Under this assumption, nontolerant individuals should attack and kill tolerant individuals when sharing a host, making this behaviour susceptible to invasion by nontolerant individuals. We propose an alternative hypothesis where gregarious larvae retain their aggressiveness but are less mobile. We tested this hypothesis with two sympatric and congeneric species of Mymaridae, Anaphes victus and Anaphes listronoti, respectively, solitary and gregarious egg parasitoids of a Curculionidae, Listronotus oregonensis. Results obtained in competition experiments and from direct observation of movement in mymariform larvae of both species support the reduced mobility hypothesis. By being immobile while retaining their fighting capacity, A. listronoti mymariform larvae appear to optimize host utilization through gregarious development, but can still defend themselves against sympatric aggressive species.