Ectoparasitism of Damselflies by Water Mites in Central Florida

Marc J. Lajeunesse


Little is known about the frequency of water mite ectoparasitism (Acari: Hydrachnida) within and among damselfly species of Central Florida. Here I present a field survey of the assemblage of damselflies and their water mite parasites at the Archbold Biological Station (Lake Placid, FL) during late Mar, 2006. During this period, 4 species of damselfly were abundant: Ischnura hastata (Say) and Nehalennia gracilis Morse captured only at pond sites; and Argia fumipennis atra Gloyd and Ischnura ramburii (Selys) captured at a lake site. Only pond damselflies had water mites, and 12.2% and 12.5% of I. hastata and N. gracilis were parasitized, respectively. These are 2 novel and unreported odonate-acari associations for this area. I also examined within-species differences in ectoparasitism by sex, body size, and wing-cell fluctuating asymmetry. However, these factors did not relate to the prevalence and intensity of parasitism in the field. My study indicates that brief surveys of odonates in Central Florida will likely generate novel, unreported associations with parasitic water mites—this information is important to address the gap in natural history for southeastern distributions of North American water mites.

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