Abstract:

Hairworms infect terrestrial arthropods and are 1 of the most understudied groups of parasites. Recently, life cycles of 2 gordiids (Paragordius varius and Paragordius obamai) have been domesticated in the laboratory. We tested the viability of laboratory reared and post-frozen larval and cyst stages of the North American gordiid, P. varius, frozen at −80 C for 7 mo, and the viability of field collected and post-frozen cysts of the African (P. obamai) and North American (P. varius) gordiid frozen at −20 C for 2 mo. All snails exposed to post-frozen or control P. varius larvae became infected with cysts, and there was no significant difference in prevalence or mean intensity of cysts among control or experimental snail groups. As with larvae, no significant differences were observed in prevalence or mean intensity of emerging worms from crickets infected with post-frozen or control P. obamai or P. varius cysts. All female P. obamai and P. varius worms from control and post-frozen cyst infections laid eggs and larvae hatched from some of these eggs. Survival and cyst formation of P. varius larvae exposed to different combinations of drying and/or freezing temperatures indicated that gordiid larvae have the ability to survive drying and freezing, but survival significantly increases during freezing at lower temperatures. The major contribution of our study is the demonstration that gordiid larval and cyst stages can survive freezing temperatures to infect and develop in the next host.

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