Parasites are a world of wonders and parasitic wasps are no different. The larvae of the Dryinid wasps are known to parasitize leafhoppers (Andersen & Nielsen 1987). In this bizarre family we find the tiny wasp Gonatopus brooksi (Olmi, 1984; Hymenoptera: Dryinidae). The female wasp grasps leafhoppers (presumably Psammotettix lividellus (Andersen & Nielsen 1987)) with her front tarsi, which has been modified into a pair of pincers, and quickly paralyzes the insect for the egg laying process. The larvae grow on the outside of nymph and adult leafhoppers in a small sack, from where they eat the tissue of the leafhopper. The male of this wasp species is not yet known, which makes these little guys ever more fascinating (Böcher et al. 2015).
Thanks to Massimo Olmi we know that this species has only been recorded 20 times throughout the USA (16 records (Olmi unpublished)), Canada (2 records (Olmi, unpublished) and once (Olmi 1984) in Greenland (Andersen & Nielsen 1987)). This
genus, however, will be updated next year by Olmi, partly due to this year’s field work in Narsarsuaq, Greenland. During this summer 17 observations of G. brooksi were made through pitfall trapping by a couple of students of Aarhus University. When looking back, 3 individuals were also found in the material collected from pitfalls in 2014 in Narsarsuaq. Some of the specimens have been confirmed by Olmi through photos. Together these observations have doubled the amount of records of this species. If the males have not been found before next summer, it should be fairly possible to find it during next year’s field work.
Mathias G. Skytte
References and links:
- Böcher, J. et al. 2015. The Greenand Entomofauna: An identification Manual of Insects, Spiders and Their Allies. – Fauna entomologica Scandinavica; v. 44
- Andersen, M. & Nielsen, P. 1987. Gonatopus brooksi Olmi 1984 found in Greenland (Hymenoptera, Dryinidae). – Ent. Med. 55:21-22.
- Olmi, M. 1984. Revision of the Dryinidae – Memoirs of the American Entomological Institute 37:1-1913-
- Olmi unpublished. A new revision of the Gonatopus genus is coming out in 2017.
Program of 1st NeAt meeting November 15-16
Finally, we are ready with a registration form for the 1st NeAT meeting at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University in Aarhus, Denmark on 15.-16. November 2016.
The deadline for registration and abstract submission is 1 September 2016. Please register even if you have been in contact earlier.
The registration form is available here:
We are very happy to announce, that the meeting itself will be free-of-charge. We will even be able to offer a free conference dinner on 16 November. However, participants are asked to arrange their own accommodation (see suggestions in the form) and travel to Aarhus.
We are working on organizing a special issue of Polar Biology for contributions from NeAT. Please get in contact as soon as possible if you are interested in contributing.
I hope to see many of you in Aarhus in November!
More information about the conference: Toke T Høye
If there is one charismatic Arctic invertebrate, it has to be
the Arctic woolly bear moth, Gynaephora groenlandica
(Wocke, 1874; Lepidoptera: Erebidae: Lymantriinae). G. groenlandica is one of two species in the genus
Gynaephora occurring in North America. G. groenlandica was thought to be a High-Arctic endemic
species until recently, when a new subspecies was described from alpine areas in the SW Yukon (G. g.
beringiana (Barrio et al. 2013); see also Lukhtanov and Khruleva (2015) for a taxonomic revision). Still, the Arctic woolly bear moth is one of the best examples of a cold-adapted species, with overwintering caterpillars that have served as model organisms for understanding physiological adaptations to freeze tolerance (Kukal et al 1988, 1989).
G. groenlandica has an extraordinarily extended developmental period of up to 7 years (Morewood and Ring 1998). Low temperatures constrain the feeding activities and metabolism of caterpillars during the short Arctic growing season, and biotic factors like parasitism and phenology of its host plant further confine larval activity to a brief period after snowmelt. To avoid the peak of activity of adult parasitoids (Kukal and Kevan 1987) during mid-summer, caterpillars spin silky hibernacula and become dormant until the next spring (Kukal and Dawson 1989).
References and links
• Barrio, I. C. et al. 2013. First records of the Arctic moth Gynaephora groenlandica (Wocke) south of the Arctic Circle – a new alpine subspecies. – Arctic: 1–15.
• Bennett, V. A. et al. 1999. Metabolic opportunists: feeding and temperature influence the rate and pattern of respiration in the high arctic woollybear caterpillar Gynaephora groenlandica (Lymantriidae). – J. Exp. Biol. 202: 47–53.
• Kukal, O. and Kevan, P. G. 1987. The influence of parasitism on the life history of a high arctic insect, Gynaephora groenlandica (Wocke) (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae). – Can. J. Zool. 65: 156–163.
• Kukal, O. and Dawson, T. E. 1989. Temperature and food quality influences feeding behavior, assimilation efficiency and growth rate of arctic woolly-bear caterpillars. – Oecologia 79: 526–532.
• Kukal, O., Duman, J.G. and Serianni, A.S. 1988. Glycerol metabolism in a freeze-tolerant arctic insect: An in vivo 13-C NMR study. – J. Comp. Physiol. B 158: 175-183.
• Kukal, O., Duman, J.G. and Serianni, A.S. 1989. Cold-induced mitochondrial degradation and cryoprotectant synthesis in freezetolerant arctic caterpillars. – J. Comp. Physiol. B 158: 661-671.
• Lukhtanov, V. A. and Khruleva, O. A. 2015. Taxonomic position and status of
Arctic Gynaephora and Dicallomera moths (Lepidoptera, Erebidae, Lymantriinae). – Folia Biol. (Praha). 63: 69–75.
• Morewood, W. D. and Ring, R. A. 1998. Revision of the life history of the High
Arctic moth Gynaephora groenlandica (Wocke) (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae). – Can. J. Zool. 76: 1371–1381.
•Caterpillar survives frozen death
Date: Tue 15 Nov — Thu 17 Nov
Time: 08:00 — 17:00
Location: AIAS, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Høegh-Guldbergs Gade 6B, bygning 1632
The Network for Arthropods of the Tundra (NeAT) is working towards increased international collaboration on topics related to arthropods in alpine and polar environments. Arthropods are highly sensitive to environmental change and arctic and alpine environments are changing rapidly as a consequence of global warming. It is therefore more relevant than ever to unite efforts and study tundra arthropods.
We are very happy to invite you to join the 1st NeAT meeting at the Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Aarhus University, Denmark. This meeting will present the latest topical research and provide a venue for informal interaction among researchers across the world.
More information about the conference: Toke T Høye
No team can work across the entire Arctic. But maybe we do not need to, either? By breaking up bigger tasks into ‘distributed experiments’, we can achieve almost anything: By conducting the same, short protocol at as many sites as possible, we can get a grip on bigger patterns, without a major loss of time and effort for anyone. Thus, by working together, we can accomplish what our network was founded to do: answering important questions in polar ecology at a scale inaccessible to any single research group.
With this objective in mind, it is time to join forces – this time to quantify the food webs regulating insect herbivores across the Arctic. What we hope to achieve is a description of how food webs of Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) and their natural enemies (parasitoid wasps and flies) vary across the Arctic – and how this reflects into a key ecosystem service: flower damage on avens (Dryas).
The sampling routine will require no more than a few hours of work during 2 (or 3) days, spaced about a week apart.
We hope that all NeAT members will join our initiative. Together, we expect to have fun implementing the new project – and to again do important science.
For more information on the project (including how to sign up), please click here. Then keep watching these web pages as we add material and specific instructions during the winter.
Tuomas Kankaanpää & Tomas Roslin