Host manipulation by parasites and parasitoids is a fascinating phenomenon within evolutionary ecology, representing an example of extended phenotypes. To elucidate the mechanism of host manipulation, revealing the origin and function of the invoked actions is essential. Our study focused on the ichneumonid spider ectoparasitoid Reclinervellus nielseni, which turns its host spider (Cyclosa argenteoalba) into a drugged navvy, to modify the web structure into a more persistent cocoon web so that the wasp can pupate safely on this web after the spider's death. We focused on whether the cocoon web originated from the resting web that an unparasitized spider builds before moulting, by comparing web structures, building behaviour and silk spectral/tensile properties. We found that both resting and cocoon webs have reduced numbers of radii decorated by numerous fibrous threads and specific decorating behaviour was identical, suggesting that the cocoon web in this system has roots in the innate resting web and ecdysteroid-related components may be responsible for the manipulation. We also show that these decorations reflect UV light, possibly to prevent damage by flying web-destroyers such as birds or large insects. Furthermore, the tensile test revealed that the spider is induced to repeat certain behavioural steps in addition to resting web construction so that many more threads are laid down for web reinforcement.
The authors declare no competing or financial interests.
K.T. designed the experiments, collected field samples and wrote the manuscript; T.Y., T.I. and K.T. performed the tensile test and analyzed obtained data; K.N. and K.T. performed wavelength measurements; K.I. and K.T. took the electron micrographs; K.M. and K.T. participated in statistical analysis; R.M., K.N. and K.M. helped draft the manuscript.
K.T. was financially supported for this study by Research Fellowship of Japan Society for the Promotion of Science for Young Scientists.
Supplementary material available online at http://jeb.biologists.org/lookup/suppl/doi:10.1242/jeb.122739/-/DC1
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