A Contribution to our Knowledge of the Mermithidae (Nematoda)


  • W. R. Nickle


The genera of the insect parasitic nematode family Mermithidae axe reviewed, and 16 of them axe redescribed and illustrated. Information is given on methods of rearing adult mermithid specimens and on host specificity. The four types of merrnithid life cycles axe described in detail. One figure shows the variety of insects parasitized by merrnithids and the location and size of the nematode within the insect. Several mermithid eggs are illustrated, and their usefulness in identification is discussed. Taxonomically, the primary emphasis is on the adult stages of the merrnithJds with larval and egg characteristics supplementaxy. An emended family diagnosis is given. Merrnis subnigrescens is considered a synonym of M. nigrescens, and M. tahitiensis is synonymized with M. mirabilis. Hydromermis contorta is accepted, leaving the genus Paramermis in an uncertain position. Study of the Steiner collections of Lirnnornermis bathybia indicates that Limnornerrnis is accepted as a valid genus. The adults of Agamermis decaudata axe descried and illustrated for the first time. The genus Gastromermis is limited to the long single-spiculed forms, as it is now apparent that five or more genera have ventrally shifted mouth orifices. Amphirnermis tinyi n. sp. is described from damselflies from Louisiana. The genus Lanceimermis is accepted, and three species in this genus are illustrated. The taxon Reesimermis nielseni has been accepted for this important parasite of more than 20 mosquito species. This nematode previously has been referred to as Romanomermis sp. R omanomermis iyengari is transferred to the genus R eesirnermis. Diximermis peterseni n. gen., n. sp., from anopheline mosquitoes, is described and iUustrated. The adults of Agamomermis culicis which parasitize Aedes sollicitans, are described for the first time, and the species placed in a new genus, Perutilimermis. The new genus Neornesornermis is proposed for Mesomermis flumenalis Welch, 1962. Several problems on mermithid morphology and taxonomy are discussed. Type material is established for some of the taxa. Key words: insect parasites, review, taxonomy, life cycles, host ranges.