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Effect of Seasonality on Rates of Gregarine Infection in Workers of a Social Wasp Polybia Paulista (Hymenoptera, Vespidae)

Kudô, K, Hasegawa, M, Mateus, S, Zucchi, R, Nascimento, F S
Neotropical entomology 2019 v.48 no.3 pp. 368-372
Neotropics, Polybia occidentalis, Polybia paulista, Protozoa, disease transmission, dry season, gregarines, host-parasite relationships, hosts, invertebrates, seasonal variation, social insects, social wasps, wet season
Social insects face strong selection from parasites because the conditions of group living often favor the transmission of infection among nestmates. However, there is little detailed information on the effects of parasite infection in the host species. Workers of Polybia species, neotropical swarm-founding wasps, are commonly infected by gregarines, protozoans that are exclusively parasitic on invertebrates. Previous studies showed that high rates of gregarine infection in workers of Polybia occidentalis (Olivier) have negative effects on their colony performance. However, the effect of seasonality on infection rates throughout the year or between wet and dry seasons has not been examined. Host-parasite interactions cannot be understood without consideration of the overall population dynamic. We compared rates of gregarine infection in workers of Polybia paulista (Ihering) between wet and dry seasons and among months. The 35% rate was by far the highest of the four wet seasons sampled, but the rates declined in the mid-wet season and were very low during the dry season. Strong seasonal differences in infection rates were also observed between the dry and wet seasons. Several potential factors affecting the seasonal differences are discussed.