Ozaena ground beetles likely parasitize ants throughout their life cycle

ScienceDaily | 1/16/2019 | Staff
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Some ground beetles in the genus Paussus ("ant nest beetles") are known to live in ant nests and parasitize ant societies for their entire life cycle, for example secreting chemicals as larvae to attract ant prey. However, ground beetles in the genus Ozaena were previously thought to be free-living, with larvae digging burrows to ambush their prey.

The authors of the present study examined ground beetles of the species Ozaena lemoulti, using adults collected from the Parajito Mountains of Arizona, eggs from previously-preserved adult females, and hand-reared larvae. They examined the beetles' anatomy in all three life stages and molecularly-sequenced adult beetle gut contents to confirm food sources, hoping to find clues to the species' lifestyle and behaviors. They also compared O. lemoulti to the closely-related Goniotropis beetle, which is known to be a free-living, burrow-digging predator.

Authors - Features - O - Parasitizes - Nests

The authors found anatomical features which might indicate that O. lemoulti parasitizes ant nests throughout its lifecycle, unlike other Ozaena beetles. Compared with Goniotropis larvae, O. lemouti larvae have morphological modifications to their mouthparts, head and abdomen which indicate that they are free-living mobile hunters in ant nests instead of immobile burrow-dwellers. The eggs lack the spongy air layer which in Goniotropis eggs protects against extreme weather conditions, indicating that they may be laid directly in the protected conditions of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: ScienceDaily
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