Tremex behaviour

Susanne Schulmeister susanne71_2000 at YAHOO.DE
Thu Sep 5 11:12:17 CDT 2002

Hi Barry

> 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 thiscase,
> a hypothesis of "host switching" from plants to animals is supported.

If I understand you correctly, the mites do not feed from the mammals,
but use them simply as a habitat. In that case, it is not such a big
deal to switch the "host" (habitat). (I wouldn't even call that a host
switch -- rather a habitat switch.)

The case with the horntails is completely different. Even though the
adult does not feed from the tree / horse, the larva certainly does
(from the tree). And it is extremely unlikely that a larva adapted to
feeding on wood would happily consume horse flesh. That would be hell
of a host switch and it can only be a mistake, in my opinion.




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