Influence of Host Nutrients on the Parasitic Development of Mermis nigrescens (Mermithidae)


  • Stuart M. Craig
  • John M. Webster


Schistocerca gregaria nymphs and adults of both sexes were infected with eggs of Mermis nigrescens. Mermithid larvae grew more slowly in nymphal hosts, and emerging larvae were smaller than those from adult hosts. The longer the larvae remained in the host, the greater their size. Those developing in adult female hosts were longest. Single mermithid larvae that were transferred to a second host continued to grow and were significantly longer at emergence than larvae that developed solely in one host. In adult hosts that were infected with 40-300 M. nigrescens eggs, the percentage of mermithids that became males was strongly dependent on host weight at infective doses of 90 eggs or more. Results are discussed in relation to nutrient stress on the larvae and its importance in developing in vitro culture techniques. Key words: sex ratios, parasite burden, Mermis nigrescens, Schistocerca gregaria, nutrient stress, larval development.