Parasitic and predatory behavior of Alysia manducator (Hymenoptera: Braconidae) on blow fly larvae feeding on an adult pig carcass in the Western Cape Province of South Africa: preliminary observations and forensic implications

Adeyemi Daniel Adetimehin, Calvin Gerald Mole, Devin Alexander Finaughty, Marise Heyns

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Abstract

Wasps are part of the entomofauna associated with vertebrate carrion. They are known to parasitize and prey on specific life stages of insect hosts such as eggs, larvae, pupae, and/or adults associated with vertebrate carrion. However, reports of parasitic behavior of wasps on carrion-associated insect life stages and their possible forensic implications are non-existent in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. This study is part of ongoing research investigating the entomofauna and their pattern of succession on an adult pig carcass in Cape Town, South Africa. During this study, the parasitic wasp Alysia manducator was noted parasitizing and preying on blow fly larvae associated with the decomposing carcass. The arrival of A. manducator coincides with the occurrence of blow fly eggs and/or larvae on the carcass. These wasps were seen in close association with the eggs and larvae of blow flies on various parts of the carcass and some wasps were seen dragging fly larvae attached to their ovipositors away from one part of the carcass to another. Some A. manducator were also observed walking over several larvae on the carcass while exhibiting a stabbing behavior presumably in search of a host for oviposition. We suggest that the observations recorded in this study are of considerable forensic importance as the dragging effect and predatory and stabbing behavior exhibited by A. manducator could potentially disrupt the feeding and development of the fly larvae on the carcass. This could subsequently alter the process of carcass decomposition and/or affect minimum post-mortem interval estimations. [Abstract copyright: © 2023. The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-288
Number of pages8
JournalInternational journal of legal medicine
Volume138
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished online - 21 Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Open access funding provided by University of Cape Town. This study was funded by the South African National Research Foundation (NRF) through a Research Grant awarded to M.H. (grant number: CSUR116299).

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Authorities of the South African National Parks and Table Mountain National Park for hosting the research project within their premises, Mr. John Morris (Farm Manager: Mariendahl Experimental Farm, Stellenbosch University) for providing the adult pig used for this research, and Dr. Simon van Noort of the Iziko Museums of South Africa for the identification of the collected wasp specimens. The authors also thank the South African National Research Foundation and University of Cape Town for providing A.D.A. with the Grantholder Student-Linked Bursary, International Students’ Scholarship, JW Jagger Centenary Gift Scholarship, and Postgraduate Research Training Grant for his academic program. The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be attributed to the National Research Foundation.

Funding Information:
The authors thank the Authorities of the South African National Parks and Table Mountain National Park for hosting the research project within their premises, Mr. John Morris (Farm Manager: Mariendahl Experimental Farm, Stellenbosch University) for providing the adult pig used for this research, and Dr. Simon van Noort of the Iziko Museums of South Africa for the identification of the collected wasp specimens. The authors also thank the South African National Research Foundation and University of Cape Town for providing A.D.A. with the Grantholder Student-Linked Bursary, International Students’ Scholarship, JW Jagger Centenary Gift Scholarship, and Postgraduate Research Training Grant for his academic program. The financial assistance of the National Research Foundation towards this research is hereby acknowledged. Opinions expressed and conclusions arrived at are those of the authors and are not necessarily to be attributed to the National Research Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Keywords

  • Wasps
  • Post-mortem interval
  • Parasitism
  • Forensic entomology
  • Alysia manducator
  • Decomposition

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