Taxonomy and Distribution of Michigan Dasymutilla (Hymenoptera: Mutillidae) with Investigations of Cues Mediating Host Searching Behavior
Dasymutilla is a genus of parasitic Hymenoptera found on sandy habitats throughout the world. Several species are found in Michigan, but there has been little investigation into the behavior and biology of these insects. In this paper, taxonomic keys, species descriptions and distribution maps are presented for the Michigan Dasymutilla. Like many parasitic Hymenoptera, the host searching behavior of Dasymutilla may be influenced by an ability to detect their own odor cues or those of hosts, or may be a result of visual or tactile detection of host burrows. In an attempt to investigate host searching behavior D. nigripes were allowed to search arenas in which one side had been presearched by themselves, other Dasymutilla species, presumed hosts or which had been marked by sham burrows. The experiments indicated that these mutillids did not avoid their own odor cues or those of another Dasymutil1a species and they did not orient towards the presence of host burrows alone. The mutillids did, however, concentrate their searching in areas that had previously been occupied by presumed hosts. A comparison of D. nigripes responses to different host species showed no distinct host preferences. Scanning electron micrographs showed mutillid antennae to be equipped with presumed chemoreceptors, providing a possible mechanism by which host odor may be detected. These observations suggest that detection of host odor is the main factor affecting mutillid host searching behavior.
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