A die-off occurred in a captive colony of blue-winged grasshoppers (Tropidacris collaris) at the Toronto Zoo. One fourth of the colony died within a year due to infection with worms initially mistaken for nematomorphs but later identified as nematodes belonging to the Mermithidae, genus Mermis. Mortality persisted and the grasshopper population dwindled over the following years. Mermithid larvae developed in the hemocoel of the insects until they eventually emerged from a hollowed-out exoskeleton. Circumstantial evidence suggests that the parasites were introduced with raspberry browse that was grown on site and contaminated with mermithid eggs.
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Vol. 39 • No. 3