Academic writing, editing, formatting, research
Biology, entomology, zoology, ecology, equestrian, wildlife science, environment
Pupal parasitoids (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae) are used as biological control agents for some species of filth flies (Diptera: Muscidae) on livestock facilities. Many species of these parasitoids are commercially available, though little is known about their biology as it relates to host-seeking and microhabitat preferences. Fly control following parasitoid releases has been variable which could be partially due to a lack of understanding of parasitoid species-specific monitoring and release strategies.
A series of experiments was conducted to assess the ability of Spalangia cameroni Perkins, a common pupal parasitoid of filth flies, to locate and parasitize hosts under field and laboratory conditions. Linear dispersal distance of S. cameroni was found to be at least 60 m; however, the majority of parasitized hosts were located < 5m from release stations. Laboratory experiments were conducted to analyze host-seeking and life history characteristics of S. cameroni from colonies of three different ages. Parasitism in host-seeking assays was significantly less in the oldest colony; however, life history characteristics (lifetime fecundity and female longevity) did not follow a linear degradation pattern by colony age. The Wolbachia surface proteins (wsp) were sequenced to analyze the presence of the endosymbiont Wolbachia in the three colonies to address the hypothesis that this bacterium may play a role in colony fitness. Many different wsp variants were identified, including a novel variant. The impacts of the wsp variants on colony fitness are unknown.
The olfactory preferences of S. cameroni to host development stages and different livestock manures were analyzed and compared to those of another common pupal parasitoid, Muscidifurax raptor Girault and Sanders. Spalangia cameroni was more attracted to substrates containing 3rd instar house flies whereas M. raptor was highly attracted to substrate with house fly puparia. Differential preferences were observed for equine and bovine manure as well with S. cameroni preferring equine manure but attracted to both manure types and M. raptor preferring bovine manure and, at least in some treatments, repelled by pure equine manure. The chemical profiles of equine and bovine manure with and without larvae were analyzed.
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Erika has written over 25 articles for research and Extension, as well as a book chapter. She can write opinion articles or research articles as well.