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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

Biomechanical adaptations to hive parasitism in the lesser waxmoth, Achroia grisella (Fabricius, 1794)

Abstract

To understand how life stages move within and between hives, we describe biomechanical aspects of the lesser wax moth, Achroia grisella; a pest to honeybees. Peristaltic locomotion and a deformable body construction allow larvae to move through the hive. Pupae are protected by silk cases. Flight allows adult moths to mate and move from hive to hive for egg placement. To better understand these adaptations, we described the peristaltic locomotion and body deformations of the waxworms, the material properties of the pupal cocoons, and the wing morphology of the adults. Using video tracking of larvae through varying apertures, we found the larvae use an anterograde peristaltic motion and are capable of squeezing through very tight holes. This is possible because the body wall is highly elastic and posture is stabilized by high hydrostatic pressures. Material properties tests show that the silk forms cocoons of isotropic high tensile strength. Adult moths are sexually dimorphic, differing in relative wing size and their hind and forewing locking mechanisms. Egg bearing females have higher wing loading, a higher wing aspect ratio, and a more complex locking mechanism when compared to their male counterparts. This species is well-adapted to a hive parasite lifestyle.

Acknowledgements

Barry Futch & VSU Dept. of Biology

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