Canadian Forest Service Publications

Overwintering adaptations in arctic sawflies (Hymenoptera: tenthredinidae) and their parasitoids: cold tolerance. 2006. Humble, L.M. The Canadian Entomologist 138: 59-71.

Year: 2006

Available from: Pacific Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26051

Language: English

CFS Availability: Order paper copy (free), PDF (download)


Although the extreme winter conditions of Arctic habitats are considered to be important determinants of the faunal composition of Arctic regions, the overwintering biology of most Arctic insects is unknown. A significant proportion of the insect fauna at high latitudes are hymenopterans, yet little information is available on their overwintering strategies. In this study I examined the overwintering strategies of willow gall-forming and catkin-feeding nematine sawflies and their parasitoids. All sawfly species overwintered as prepupae, were freezingtolerant, and survived exposure to -50 °C. Freezing at high subzero temperatures was initiated by ice nucleators associated with the posterior hind gut wall. Heterogeneity of overwintering habitats with respect to temperature was not a determinant of the overwintering success of these Arctic sawflies. Divergent overwintering mechanisms were evident in the sawfly parasitoid taxa. Endoparasitoid larvae, like their sawfly hosts, were freezing-tolerant. Freezing of immature, feeding endoparasitoid larvae occurred at the freezing point of the host prepupa and was a consequence of the inoculation of the endoparasitoids' fluid compartments by ice crystals growing in the host hemolymph. Peculiarities in the structure of the endoparasitoid larval gut suggest that the site of nucleation is across the gut wall. Outside their hosts, however, endoparasitoid larvae can supercool extensively, and their tolerance of extremely low temperatures is similar to that of their hosts. Overwintering strategies adopted by the ectoparasitoids were also diverse, with both freezing-tolerant and freezing-intolerant species present in the parasitoid community. Freezingintolerant species could not survive winter temperatures in the field in the absence of an insulating layer of snow.



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