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An observation of the parasitoid Melittobia australica Girault (Hymenoptera: Eulophidae) and its host, the solitary wasp Sceliphron Asiaticum (Linnaeus) (Hymenoptera: Sphecidae).

Hymenoptera encompass a vast array of biological life-styles, including two truly remarkable diversifications within the insects: the largest development of eusocial taxa among the animals and the greatest elaboration of parasitic behavior among the insects (Whitfield, 1998). The parasitic mode of life, although not exclusive to hymenopterans, is a distinctive and important behavior, that is present in a wide variety of relationships, including endoparasitism, ectoparsitism, hyperparasitism and others.

Wasps in the genus Meliltobia (Eulophidae) are small (1.0-1.5 mm), gregariously developing idiobionts, which parasitize many species of solitary bees and wasps and their nest cohabitants (Matthews et al., 2009).

In the present paper, we report the parasitic relationship between the eulophid parasitoid Melittobia australica Girault, 1912 and its host, the solitary wasp Sceliphron asiaticum (Linnaeus, 1758) (Sphecidae) in Brazil. The parasitic relationship between Melittobia and Sceliphron hosts has already been documented in Cuba, Costa Rica and The Dominican Republic (Freeman and Parnell, 1973; Genaro, 1994, 1996; Dahms, 1984b; Hunt, 1993; Hanson and Gauld, 1995; Gonzalez et al., 2004). Parasitism by Melittobia is considered a major cause of mortality for immature Sceliphron inside nests (Freeman and Parnell, 1973; Matthews et al., 2009).

There are six described species of Sceliphron, which occur in tropical and temperate regions (Amarante, 2002). Two species of Sceliphron have been recorded from Brazil: S. asiaticum (Linnaeus, 1758) and S. fistularium (Dahlbom, 1843). Only Sceliphron asiaticum is known from the State of Piaui (Amarante, 2002). This solitary wasp builds mud nests using detritus and even feces. Spider body parts are primary food source for Sceliphron larvae and are sometimes used in nest construction (Bohart, 1976).

Presently, there are 12 described Melittobia species worldwide (Matthews et al., 2009; Noyes, 2013); two species are found in Brazil: M. australica Girault, 1912 and M. hawaiiensis Perkins, 1907 (Dahms, 1984a; Mathews et al., 2009). These are common enemies of many solitary wasps, such as species of Trypoxylon and Sceliphron (Sphecidae) and Bombus (Apidae). In addition, host records for Melittobia species include various species of Coleoptera, Diptera, Dictyoptera and Lepidoptera (Matthews et al., 2009). Melittobia has shown to have devastating effects on pollinator populations due to a large multiplier effect. Melittobia can produce several hundred progeny per host and has multiple successive generations per year (Matthews et al., 2009).

A nest of 5. asiaticum (Fig. 1) was collected in May 2011 inside a house in the municipality of Floriano, Piaui, in northeastern Brazil (06[degrees]47'02"S, 43[degrees]02'25"W) and taken to the entomology laboratory at EMBRAPA MeioNorte, at Teresina, Piaui. The nest was kept in a sealed plastic container so that any emerging parasitoids could be observed. After the parasitoids emerged, we examined the inside of the nest, looking for spiders and Sceliphron pupae. The sphecid pupae were extracted and the parasitoid contents were dried and either card or slide mounted. Any spider parts were identified and then discarded. The parasitoid wasps were identified using keys by Dahms (1984a) and LaSalle (1993). The solitary wasp was identified by Dr. Marcio Luiz de Oliveira at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia. The spiders were identified by the first author (LSC). One specimen of Sceliphron found inside the nest was mounted as a voucher. All vouchers were deposited in the Hymenoptera collection at the Coleqao de Historia Natural da Universidade Federal do Piaui (CHNUFPI; Curator L. S. Carvalho) in Floriano, Piaui, Brazil.

The presence of S. asiaticum nest near manmade structures has been reported previously for other Sceliphron species, such as S. assimile (Dahlbom, 1843), 5. caementarium, S. fistularium (Dahlbom, 1843) and S. laetum (F. Smith, 1856) worldwide (Freeman and Parnell, 1973; Early and Townsend, 1992; Harris, 1992; Hunt, 1993; Buys, 2009). The nest studied here was constructed mainly of sand soil (mud) and had 12 chambers, each with a single pupa of Sceliphron asiaticum (Fig. 1A). We observed a single egg in each chamber in the S. asiaticum nest. This is similar to other cogeneric species of Sceliphron (e.g., S. assimile and S. laetum) (Hunt, 1993; Elgar and Jebb, 1999). Spider body parts (Fig. 1B) were found near the pupae. (CHNUFPI 0009; Fig. 1C, D). Over 100 winged parasitoids emerged from the sphecid pupae sampled. They were identified as M. australica (CHNUFPI 0010; Fig. 1E, F). No wingless parasitoid emerged. The parasitism rate was 100%.

The spider parts in the S. asiaticum nest were identified as belonging to one of five families: Salticidae, Oxyopidae, Anyphaenidae, Corinnidae (Castianeirinae) and Thomisidae. All individuals are cursorial spiders (Dias et al., 2010) and no orb-web spiders were found. Sceliphron prey on a variety of spider taxa, including only orb-weavers by S. laetum, S. fistularium (Harris, 1992; Elgar and Jebb, 1999; Camillo, 2002; Buys, 2009), and 5. caementarium (Eberhard, 1970; Blackledge and Pickett, 2000). Thus, the finding of only cursorial spiders in the nest of 5. asiaticum is an unexpected result. This present paper provides another conformational record of the parasitism of the solitary wasp S. asiaticum by the parasitoid M. australica, and verifies cursorial spiders as the wasp's unexpected preys.--Leonardo S. Carvalho, Universidade Federal do Piaul, Campus Amilcar Ferreira Sohral--CAFS, BR 343, Km 3.5, Bairro Meladao, 64800-000, Floriano-PI. E-mail: carvalho@ Programa de Pos-Gradua(do em Zoologia, Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil: Marcus Vinicius O. Bevilaqua, Programa de Pos-Graduacao em Entomologia, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia--INPA, Avenida Andre Araujo, 2936, Aleixo, 69060001, Manaus-AM, Brasil. E-mail: marcusbevilaqua@ gmail. com; Ranyse B. Querino, Embrapa Meio-Norte, Avenida Duque de Caxias, 5650, 64006-220, Teresina-PI, Brasil. E-mail:

Caption: Fig. 1. A nest of Sceliphron asiaticum found inside a house in the municipality of Floriano, Piaui, northeastern Brazil and the habitus of adult Sceliphron asiaticum and Melittobia australica. A. Nest. B. Pupae. C. Lateral and D. dorsal view of an adult S. asiaticum. E. Male and F. Female dorsal view of adult M. australica.


The authors wish to thank Dr. Marcio Luiz de Oliveira (INPA) for the identification of the solitary wasp. The authors thank Dr. Christine Johnson and two anonymous referees for comments on early draft of the manuscript. Collecting permits were issued by the Instituto Chico Mendes de Conservacao da Biodiversidade (ICMBio), through the Sistema de Autorizacao e Informagao em Biodiversidade (SISBIO #28629-2).

Received 22 April 2014; accepted 4 May 2014


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Title Annotation:SCIENTIFIC NOTE
Publication:Entomologica Americana
Article Type:Report
Date:Jan 1, 2014
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