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Keywords:

  • Danaidae;
  • encapsulation;
  • host–parasitoid relationship;
  • Japan;
  • migration;
  • Tachinidae

Abstract

The danaid butterfly Ideopsis similis, which occurs in the Ryukyu Islands, Japan, is a sedentary and monophagous species, whose larval food plant, Tylophora tanakae (Asclepiadaceae), is shared with the migratory and polyphagous danaid Parantica sita. The tachinid Sturmia bella is known to be a principal parasitoid of larval P. sita, whereas there have been no records of parasitization of I. similis by this tachinid. We conducted laboratory experiments and field surveys at seven sites in the Ryukyu Islands to determine how I. similis evades parasitization by this tachinid. We found eggs of S. bella at four sites and eggs and/or larvae of I. similis on the leaves of T. tanakae at all seven sites in the field survey. Out of 40 I. similis allowed to ingest S. bella eggs, 28 (70%) emerged as normal host adults and nine (22.5%) emerged as host adults with crippled wings. Only three (7.5%) died of parasitization in the pupal stage, whereas 27 (87%) of 31 P. sita given S. bella eggs yielded parasitoid flies and eventually died. Melanized dead larvae of S. bella were found in the abdomens of the I. similes adults that had been parasitized but did not yield parasitoid flies. When I. similis females parasitized by S. bella were released in a greenhouse with males, one of them laid fertile eggs. Out of 125 field-collected I. similis adults, nine had melanized dipteran larvae within their abdomens, which were considered to be S. bella. These results demonstrate that I. similis has the ability to overcome parasitization by S. bella and develop into a fertile adult. It is possible that I. similis remains sedentary and monophagous because it has a strong defense mechanism against S. bella, whereas P. sita escapes from parasitization using its migratory and polyphagous capability.