Tremex behaviour & our behavior

Ken Kinman kinman at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Sep 5 05:38:48 CDT 2002

     That's a very interesting case of host-switching, which no doubt
occurred many millions of years ago (having given rise to two new genera of
     However, the case of siricid wasps trying to lay eggs within horses or
fire-fighters sounds like it may be a dead-end in evolutionary terms.  The
poor confused mother wasp has probably lost those eggs to chemical confusion
(as animal immune systems would probably attack the eggs).  But there are
always more evolutionary losers than winners in the long run.
      Maybe we'll find out these horses had wood shavings in their bedding
(as Bill Shear suggested as a possilibity) or rubbed up against a dead or
dying tree (as I suggested), or against some burnt wood (as Susanne's post
might possibly suggest).
      But let me suggest yet another possibility---as I brainstorm a little
further.  With the perfume industry mixing hundreds or thousands of
different chemicals into their "seductive" formulas, and increasingly using
various animal musks and pheromones, would it not be likely that humans
wearing such chemical concoctions (or the dogs, cats or horses which they
pet and groom) would be at increasing risk of becoming chemically attractive
(positively or negatively) to various insects?
      I've always wondered if people who wear strong perfumes and
aftershaves might not be at greater risk of being stung by bees, bitten by
mosquitoes or ticks, or just bugged by insects in general.  For all we know
the dog killed by all those bees might have been petted by an owner with
lots of aftershave or perfume on his/her hands.  With hundreds of chemicals
in such mixtures, one could have mimicked the distress chemical of bees.
Who knows, as it only takes tiny amounts (parts per million or even parts
per billion) to trigger reactions in the insects detecting them?
      It takes such a tiny amount of such chemicals to elicit such
responses, and we are putting thousands of them willy-nilly (in various
combinations) into consumer products.  Something to think about.  Pollution
doesn't have to be concentrated and industrial strength to impact other
organisms or even ourselves.  Some store owners even spraying chemicals to
get us to buy more at their stores.  Seems like we are increasing playing an
escalating game of chemical roulette which has gotten completely out of
control.  It's scary and getting scarier all the time.
            ------- Ken Kinman

>From: "Barry M. OConnor" <bmoc at UMICH.EDU>
>Reply-To: "Barry M. OConnor" <bmoc at UMICH.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Tremex behaviour
>Date: Wed, 4 Sep 2002 18:33:48 -0400
>At 7:06 PM +0000 9/4/02, Ken Kinman wrote:
> >>      ... Anyway, I have not yet been able to find any literature on
> >> horntail wasps (Siricidae) trying to "oviposit" their eggs into a horse
> >> any other animal, for that matter).  I find this interesting, trying to
> >> figure out why  such drastic "host-switching" (animals instead of
> >> would occur...
>There is an odd group of mites in the family Histiostomatidae (genera
>Loxanoetus & Otanoetus) that live in the ear canals of horses, donkeys,
>elephants & African buffalo.  These mites are filter feeders.  They appear
>to be related to a clade whose species otherwise inhabit phytotelmata.  The
>species whose dispersal mode is known utilize flies for phoretic dispersal.
>At some point in history a fly may have made a mistake and entered a large
>mammal ear instead of some other confined, dark, wet space.  In this case,
>a hypothesis of "host switching" from plants to animals is supported. -
>So many mites, so little time!
>Barry M. OConnor
>Professor & Curator             phone: (734) 763-4354
>Museum of Zoology               FAX: (734) 763-4080
>University of Michigan          e-mail: bmoc at
>Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1079  USA

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