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Changes to web architecture of Leucauge volupis (Araneae: Tetragnathidae) induced by the parasitoid Hymenoepimecis jordanensis (Hymenoptera: Ichneumonidae)

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Some new cases of ectoparasitoid wasps from the Polysphincta genus-group manipulating the behaviour of host spiders have been described in recent years, indicating that the modification of normal web structure is the rule rather than an exception as the outcome of these interactions. In most cases, orb web diameter and the number of adhesive spirals are reduced, which decreases the probability of web damage from the interception of insects on the viscid threads during the development of the parasitoid within the cocoon. In this study, we describe a new interaction between the host spider Leucauge volupis and the recently described parasitoid Hymenoepimecis jordanensis. Web modifications induced by larvae in their last instar, in this case, are different to those described for two other Leucauge species attacked by Hymenoepimecis spp., L. argyra and L. roseosignatha. The cocoon webs constructed by the parasitized L. volupis are similar to those webs constructed by immature individuals, presenting a lower tangle, which may increase the stability of the web or offer additional physical protection for the cocoon. As in other previously described cases, sticky spirals are absent from cocoon webs. However, the photographs of webs constructed by spiders carrying second instar larvae indicated that the reduction in spirals begins before the construction of the cocoon web. These webs remain functional, being substantially modified only when the larvae reach the third instar. Variation among cocoon web designs of congeneric hosts attacked by distinct Hymenoepimecis species indicate that the substance used for host manipulation may vary in concentration and/or composition. Alternatively, distinct host responses may occur to the same substances.

Affiliations: 1: aInstituto de Biologia, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Campus Umuarama Bloco 2D, Uberlândia, MG, CEP 38400-902, Brazil; 2: bPós-graduação em Ecologia e Recursos Naturais, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil; 3: cGraduação em Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal de Uberlândia, Uberlândia, MG, Brazil


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