Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 315–324 | Cite as

Attack Behavior of Two Wasp Species of the Polysphincta Genus Group (Hymenoptera, Ichneumonidae) on their Orb-Weaver Spider Hosts (Araneae, Araneidae)

  • Thiago Gechel KlossEmail author
  • Marcelo Oliveira Gonzaga
  • José Augusto Martins Roxinol
  • Carlos Frankl Sperber


Species in the Polysphincta genus group, as far as is known, are exclusively koinobiont ectoparasitoids of spiders. These wasps attack their hosts, inflicting a temporary paralysis, and then lay one egg on the host’s abdomen or prosoma. Parasitoid attack behavior is highly variable among species, including occasions where the wasp darts directly and holds the spider, as well as instances involving complex behavioral sequences. In the present study, we describe the attack behavior of Polysphincta sp. nr. purcelli and P. janzeni on Cyclosa fililineata and C. morretes, respectively. All attacks occurred at night. Initially, the female wasp landed on the web hub at the position occupied by the spider, with the spider always escaping from this initial attack. Subsequently, the wasp waited for up to 14 h at the web hub for the spider’s return. The wasp then inserted its ovipositor into the mouth of the spider, after which the spider became paralyzed and remained motionless for at least 30 min. The wasp laid one egg on the surface of the host’s abdomen and remained on the web for at least 1 h thereafter. The lie-in-wait and attack only after the return of the host to the web hub, as well as the permanence of the wasp on the web after the attack are not frequent behaviors described for polysphinctines. Behavioral idiosyncrasies, such as those observed here, are common among polysphinctines, suggesting a high level of specific adaptive matching of polysphinctine parasitoid behavior to their hosts’ biological characteristics.


Incidence of parasitoids orb-webs oviposition parasitoids 



We are grateful to the Estação Biológica de Santa Lúcia and Reserva Biológica Augusto Ruschi for access. This project was supported by Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (grant numbers 140508/2012-0, 306157/2014-4, 403733/2012-0, 445832/2014-2, 573802/2008-4, 309787/2012-2 and 300295/2016-2), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa e Inovação do Espírito Santo (grant number 1020/2015), Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (research grant to José Augusto Martins Roxinol), Fundação de Amparo à Pesquisa do Estado de Minas Gerais (grant numbers APQ-02104-14 and CRA-30058/12), and Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia dos Hymenoptera Parasitoides da Região Sudeste (HYMPAR/Sudeste - CNPq/CAPES/Fapesp). We thank Thairine Mendes Pereira, José Luiz Molino, and Lourdes Corbellari Molino for assistance in fieldwork and Ana Paula S. Loffredo for the identification of Polysphincta sp. nr. purcelli and P. janzeni. We also thank Adalberto J. dos Santos, Flávia Maria S. Carmo, Karla S. C. Yotoko, José Henrique Schoereder and two anonymous referees for their comments on the manuscript. This study complies with the current laws of Brazil (Authorization ICMBIO N° 34711).

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thiago Gechel Kloss
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Marcelo Oliveira Gonzaga
    • 3
  • José Augusto Martins Roxinol
    • 1
  • Carlos Frankl Sperber
    • 4
  1. 1.Departamento de Entomologia, Programa de Pós-Graduação em EntomologiaUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrasil
  2. 2.Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade Federal do Espírito SantoAlegreBrasil
  3. 3.Instituto de BiologiaUniversidade Federal de UberlândiaUberlândiaBrasil
  4. 4.Departamento de Biologia GeralUniversidade Federal de ViçosaViçosaBrasil

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