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Post Doctoral Research in the US - 2023 June onwards

I am here in the US to study the ecology of flathead borers so as to manage them efficiently

Started working on the impact of cover crops and effects of irrigation on flathead borer damage in Maple trees 
 
Also studying the effect of different traps to catch the adults from the fields

I am getting trained to identify the complex genus Chrysobothris

 

Chrysobothris
Chrysobothris quadriimpressa

I am also documenting the  the diversity of parasitoids of Chrysobothris spp for
South Eastern US

So far we have reared 18 species of parasitoids form Chrysobothris infested logs 

Atanycolus
Atanycolus cappaerti

I am also studying the diversity of parasitoids of Japanese  
Maple Scale
We discovered 3 parasitoids for this pest from TN

Pteroptrix chinensis, 
Aphytis hispanicus, and 
Marlattiella prima

We aim to study more on these parasitoids in the coming spring 2024 

Parasitoid
Pteroptrix chinensis

Post Doctoral Research in Israel- 2020-2023 

Hi everyone, I am here to briefly pen down my current research 

Heliothis
Heliothis nubigera -the prey caterpillar

Project-1: Foraging Ecology of Potter Wasp

Females of the potter wasp Delta dimidiatipenne collect Heliothis nubigera from the surrounding vegetation and place them inside their mud-constructed nest cells to provide for their offspring. However, it has been observed that females frequently collect caterpillars that are already internally parasitized by the gregarious parasitoid wasp Copidosoma primulum. In such cases, the potter wasp offspring’s food supply may become depleted, and they may fail to complete their development, while the Copidosoma primulum offspring mature but remain trapped and eventually die within the mud cell.

This raises the questions:

Why do potter wasp females continue to bring parasitized caterpillars into their nests? Can they distinguish parasitized from

non-parasitized caterpillars ?

Copidosoma
Copidosoma primulum- the gregarious parasitoid
Delta
Delta dimidiatipenne - the potter wasp

While investigating the potential mechanisms sustaining it, we aimed at quantifying the fitness costs of this behaviour.

Our findings of this fascinating behaviour were published in Animal Behaviour Journal 

Kindly read more regarding this interesting system by clicking the button below

Project-II: Widow Spider- Parasitoid Interaction

Brown Widow
Brown widow female guarding the egg sacs

The brown widow spider, Latrodectus geometricus, is a hazardous and highly invasive species globally. One of the suggested mechanisms enhancing this spider’s invasiveness is its lower susceptibility to natural enemies, in particular, the egg sac parasitoid wasp Philolema latrodecti. This wasp is known to attack the egg sacs of the brown widow spider, as well as those of white widow spider which is native to Israel.

We compared wasp development success in egg sacs exposed to increasing wasp densities. We found higher developmental success, with both more and larger parasitoids developing in the egg sacs of the native host species, L. pallidus, compared to the invasive host species, L. geometricus

Eurytomidae
Philolema latrodecti parasitizing the eggs of brwon widow
White Widow
Native adult white widow spider (female)

Our interesting findings got published in Biological Invasions journal 

Read our publication

 

My Banglore Days - Indian Institute of Science

While I was in the Center for Ecological Sciences, IISc, Banglore for a brief period, I explored the diversity of nest architecture in mud wasps to understand their innate principles of bioengineering 

Delta pyriforme
Delta pyriforme building nest
Mud wasp
Paraleptomenes humbertianus

We tested the integrity of the these mud nests by soaking them in water -

to our surprise,

the nest maintained its integrity for more than a week!

During my time in IISc, I also studied the diversity of pollinating and non-pollinating fig wasps from the Ficus elastica, the living root bridge tree of the Eastern Himalaya, Khasi and Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya

Kindly click the button below to read our publication 

fig wasps
Ants vs Fig wasps

My research as a Senior Research Fellow in
Tamil Nadu Agricultural University 

After my Ph. D, during my research days in the Museum of Tamil Nadu Agricultural University, I travelled throughout India for insect collections. On our expeditions, we discovered and made several new records of insects!

Few of them are as follows:

The bee mimicking hover fly genus Volucella and the potter wasp mimicking genus Monoceromyia  (both reported for the first time in South India)
a moth named Saturnia cidosa
(reported for the first time in India)

 

Syrphidae
Volucella trifasciata

My Ph.D research in Tamil Nadu Agricultural University 

The objectives of my Ph.D were as follows: 

1) Documentation of parasitic hymenopterans associated with rice ecosystems of India


2) Measuring the diversity of collected parasitoids through diversity indices


3) Host insect rearing to establish plant-herbivore-parasitoid relationships


4) Identification of collected parasitoids through morphological characterization

Mymaridae
Mymar Sp.
Callipteroma
Callipteroma sexguttata

 Parasitoid individuals representing 11 super families, 28 families and 174 species were collected in the entire study period.

Field experiments conducted to evaluate the efficiency of six different parasitoid collecting gadgets viz., sweep net,
yellow pan trap kept at ground level, yellow pan trap erected at canopy levels, Malaise trap, suction trap and light trap revealed that yellow pan trap kept at ground level as the most effective gadget in trapping the parasitoids

A correlation was made between the parasitoid and that of the prevailing weather parameters- a significant negative correlation between the parasitoid population and the rise in temperature.

Rice horned caterpillar
Rice Horned caterpillar with Pediobius sp
grasshopper

Phoresy exhibited by Sceliocerdo sp. an egg parasitoid of Neorthacris sp.
was also recorded for the first time in Tamil Nadu

I have also described a new species in the family Evaniidae Prosevania austrina sp. n.

 

This species was collected from the Paddy Breeding station, Coimbatore

Evaniidae

My Master's research

 I evaluated profenofos and hexithiazox against major pests of tea and quantified the pesticide residues to calculate the safe waiting period after spraying these chemicals.

More importantly, I checked the safety of this chemical to the predominantly available parasitoids in tea ecosystem 

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