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Document Type

Peer-Review Article

Abstract

Eight techniques for the determination of parity and gonotrophic age were assessed for the obligatorily anautogenous blackfly-species complex, Simulium venustum Say. All females could be age-graded by the presence or absence of dilatations on the ovarioles. However, multiple dilatations on a single ovariole were not found and the Polovodova method could not be used to determine the number of completed gonotrophic cycles. Most females could be age-graded by the appearance of the Malpighian tubules, which undergo morphological changes, probably as a result of a bloodmeal. In some cases, the size of the fat body, the presence of retained (relict), mature ova and the presence of meconium in the gut could be used as accessory age-grading criteria. Insemination status, the volume of the esophageal diverticulum, and the stage of development of the terminal ovarian follicles could not be used to age-grade females. The literature of age-grading in blackflies is reviewed, with special reference to the interpretability of the Polovodova method.

Seasonal changes in the gonotrophic-age structure of a population of the S. venustum complex in Algonquin Park, ON, Canada, were examined over two years. The maximal proportion of parous females in the population was 75 and 62% in the two years, respectively. There was weak evidence that parous females were more likely to host seek in the morning and nulliparous females in the afternoon. Parity declined in mid-season, due to the recruitment of newly emerged adults to the population.

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