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Inquiline

Definition:

In general terms, an inquiline is an organism that lives in the home of another organism, usually for the purpose of sharing food or resources. Entomologically speaking, an inquiline is an arthropod that lives in a structure created by another type of arthropod. The inquiline species may inhabit a gall formed by a gallmaking arthropod, for example, or live in the burrow or nest of another arthropod.


In most cases, inquilines live in the nests of social insects, such as ants or bees. The presence of the inquiline species may cause a change in the behavior of both species, and the inquilines may interact with their hosts. This is known as an integrated inquiline species. Other inquilines may simply adapt to life within the host’s nest or burrow, but not interact with the host species in any direct way. This is a non-integrated inquiline species.

A few examples of inquilines include:
  • the minute droplet spiders (genus Argyrodes), which live in the webs of the larger golden orb weaver spiders (genus Nephila)
  • the caterpillars of the blue butterfly Maculinea arion, which live in the nests of red ants (genus Myrmica)
  • the larvae of hover flies in the genus Volucella, which live in the nests of bees
  • the larvae of various flies, which live in the dung balls constructed by dung beetles

Sources:
  • The Insects: an Outline of Entomology, by PJ Gullan and PS Cranston.
  • ”Inquilines and Cleptoparasites,” by Andrew Sourakov, University of Florida-Gainesville. In Encyclopedia of Entomology, by John L. Capinera.

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