Laboratory Culture and Life History of Heleidomermis magnapapula in Its Host, Culicoides variipennis (Diptera: Ceratopogonidae)


  • Bradley A. Mullens
  • Robert K. Velten


The mermithid parasite Heleidomermis magnapapula was maintained in larvae of the midge Culicoides variipennis for 20 months in enamel pans containing nutrient-rich water and polyester pads as a substrate. Inseminated female mermithids were introduced to the pad surface when the host was in the late second or early third-instar. Host larvae were harvested from the pans 9 days after exposure and held in tap water for nematode emergence. Preparasite yield was positively correlated with female nematode size and averaged 1,267 preparasites/female. Male and female nematodes emerged an average of 12.2 and 13.4 days after host exposure, respectively. Supplemental host food (Panagrellus) during the final days of parasitism did not alter time of emergence. Parasites emerging singly were 64% females, whereas superparasitized hosts yielded males (up to nine/host). Nematode carryover into the adult midge normally occurred at a level of 0.5-2.5%. Parasite load (nematodes/ parasitized individual) in midge adults was lower than that of larvae from the same cohort, and adult midges were more likely to harbor female parasites. Exposure of fourth-instar host larvae resulted in higher levels of adult parasitism (up to 17%). Key words: biological control, bluetongue, Culicoides, Heleidomermis, host-parasite relationships, Mermithidae, nematode.