Living With More Stylops

Stylops melittae male

Stylops melittae male
Image: Aiwok

Stylops is a genus of Strepsiptera, the “Twisted Wing” parasites. Strepsiptera are noted for having only the hindwing fully developed and functional as wings. They are parasites of other bees and many are tiny with morphological features radically altered to adapt to small size and a parasitic lifestyle.

The small size and unusual lifecycles of Strepsiptera make taxonomy difficult. In North America and Japan, it was recognized that Strepisptera species in the Genus Stylops were host specific, each host having its own species of parasite. In Europe, only one species was recognized, Stylops melittae as the parasite found on multiple species of Andrenid bees.

KATERˇ INA JU ̊ ZOVÁ, YUTA NAKASE and JAKUB STRAKA* investigated specimens in the genus Stylops using DNA barcoding and asked if the barcode results were consistent with a single species of parasite in Europe. The DNA barcoding is unequivocal. Sylops mellittae found on different host (with a few exceptions) have DNA differences at levels typically associated with separate species. The idea of one species, Sylops mellittae, as a super-generalist parasite is not supported. Several dozen species likely exist and new names will be required.

*KATERˇ INA JU ̊ ZOVÁ, YUTA NAKASE and JAKUB STRAKA. Host specialization and species diversity in the genus Stylops (Strepsiptera: Stylopidae), revealed by molecular phylogenetic analysis. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2015, 174, 228–243.
doi: 10.1111/zoj.12233

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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