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Request for help from Mark Shaw

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  • Bugclubquestions
    I have been looking at the taxonomy of the species of Braconidae: Microgastrinae (genus Pholetesor, sometimes known under the name Apanteles) that parasitise
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 5, 2013
      I have been looking at the taxonomy of the species of Braconidae: Microgastrinae (genus Pholetesor, sometimes known under the name Apanteles) that parasitise leaf mining Lepidoptera in Britain and Europe, especially all genera of Gracillariidae and Elachistidae  but also a few others: Psychoides (Tineidae), Emmetia (Tischeriidae) and  [non-British] Millieria (Choreutidae) are the ones I know. Pholetesor are often very numerous parasitoids of these groups. It has become clear (Shaw, 2012, Entomologist's Gazette 63: 173-201) that DNA studies will be needed in order to understand species limits in Pholetesor, and accordingly I am starting to try to build up samples in alcohol.

      If anyone rears any specimens of Microgastrinae from the above hosts they will almost certainly be Pholetesor, and this is usually the commonest ichneumonoid from this group. In context, Ichneumonoidea (which includes Braconidae) are recognisable by having fore wing venation with enclosed cells (and a clear pterostigma), as opposed to Chalcidoidea whose wings lack cells but which also commonly parasitise these groups). For those wanting to look more closely, like all European Microgastrinae Pholetesor species have 16 flagellar segments (making 18, counting the scape and pedicel, in the antenna as a whole) and they are usually blackish (some have partly reddish abdomens), generally with partly paler legs, and they are fairly compact in build. Other Ichneumonoidea (which, at least from Gracillariidae, I don't need so much) will usually be more elongate, and have more antennal segments.  Chalcidoidea (also not so urgently wanted) have very short antennae in comparison, with many fewer segments, and often have metallic green/blue/purple reflections.

      I would be most grateful if anyone rearing Pholetesor from the above host groups could save them for me, preferably by killing (and then keeping) them in ethyl alcohol that is as strong as possible (the widely available 70% Industrial Meths is OK if not perfect, but isopropanol is disastrous as it doesn't preserve DNA), or if that can't be done please allow them to die naturally under dry (plant free!) conditions that are not completely airtight (so that once dead they will dry out rapidly without becoming even slightly mouldy) and, once fully dry, put them into a small tube containing nothing else except a bit of cotton wool in the bottom, and plug with cotton wool (not a plastic stopper, and don't make it airtight with tape). Then, whether wet or dry, please store (with host data) in a fridge or freezer until sending them. For further details please contact markshaw@... or phone +44131 667 0577
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