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Volume 2010 (2010), Article ID 950614, 4 pages
Research Article

New Types of Behavioral Manipulation of Host Spiders by a Parasitoid Wasp

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Universidad de Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria, Costa Rica

Received 14 October 2009; Revised 9 June 2010; Accepted 15 July 2010

Academic Editor: Robert Matthews

Copyright © 2010 William G. Eberhard. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The larva of the parasitic wasp Zatypota sp. nr. solanoi induces its host spiders Anelosimus spp. to modify its web in ways not seen in normal webs of this species or in any other species, providing apparent protection and support for the wasp's cocoon by covering the entire web with a protective sheet and adding a central platform and opening a space below in the enclosed tangle, where the larva suspends its cocoon. These modifications differ qualitatively from those induced by a congeneric wasp. Parasitized spiders appeared to adjust modified web construction behavior to local conditions, implying that larval manipulations may occur at higher rather than lower levels of behavioral control (e.g., eliciting overall design decisions, rather than particular motor patterns).