Variation in Propensity to Exhibit Thanatosis in Nasonia vitripennis (Hymenoptera: Pteromalidae)

  • B. H. KingEmail author
  • H. R. Leaich

Thanatosis (death-feigning) has rarely been documented for Hymenoptera but occurs in the parasitoid wasp Nasonia vitripennis. The propensity to exhibit thanatosis did not differ with age, sex, or food deprivation. Squeezing a female’s abdomen and contacting her antennae were equally likely to trigger thanatosis. Dropping an object next to a female in order to cause substrate vibrations never triggered thanatosis, and dropping a female from a test tube rarely triggered thanatosis. Thanatosis was not seen during interactions between females. There was some tendency for females to exhibit fewer thanatosis responses on white than on colored backgrounds. Females that were least active had the greatest tendency to exhibit thanatosis.

Key words

activity death-feigning Nasonia parasitoid wasp thanatosis 



We thank A. Goldberg and D. Morris for laboratory assistance. This research was supported by Northern Illinois University’s Department of Biological Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesNorthern Illinois UniversityDeKalbUSA

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