Clonal damselflies (Ischnura hastata) are not significantly affected by mite parasitism
We studied parasitism rate by the terrestrial mite Leptus killingtoni Turk (Acari: Erythraeidae) on asexual parthenogenetic damselflies, Ischnura hastata (Say), and sexual Ischnura pumilio (Charpentier) (Odonata: Coenagrionidae) on Pico island (Azores, Portugal). We sampled 52 water bodies on the island and recorded whether Ischnura specimens were parasitized. Half of the water bodies had either dried up or were almost dry or did not have Ischnura populations. In the remaining 23 ponds, mite parasitism was extremely low, with only 3.6% of I. hastata females bearing one or more mites. Ischnura pumilio was rare on the island (61 specimens examined) and had also very few parasites (9.8% parasitism). We examined the biology of the mite and its effects on the host, by studying mite attachment behavior and seasonal abundance, in an intensive study of one pond (Lagoa do Landroal). At this pond, mite prevalence peaked at the start of the sampling period, with 32% of females of I. hastata parasitized and decreased continuously until the end of the study, when only 2% were parasitized. The analysis of mark–recapture histories of 1 748 females of I. hastata indicates that mites did not affect female survival or recapture rate. Our results suggest that L. killingtoni is unlikely to represent a significant selective factor for odonates on the island of Pico, if its density is as low as during the period of our study, although it could be relevant when it is locally abundant or during periods of outbreak.