Neuroparasitology of Parasite-Insect Associations

David P. Hughes, Frederic Libersat

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Insect behavior can be manipulated by parasites, and in many cases, such manipulation involves the central and peripheral nervous system. Neuroparasitology is an emerging branch of biology that deals with parasites that can control the nervous system of their host. The diversity of parasites that can manipulate insect behavior ranges from viruses to macroscopic worms and also includes other insects that have evolved to become parasites (notably, parasitic wasps). It is remarkable that the precise manipulation observed does not require direct entry into the insect brain and can even occur when the parasite is outside the body. We suggest that a spatial view of manipulation provides a holistic approach to examining such interactions. Integration across approaches from natural history to advanced imaging techniques, omics, and experiments will provide new vistas in neuroparasitology. We also suggest that for researchers interested in the proximate mechanisms of insect behaviors, studies of parasites that have evolved to control such behavior is of significant value.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)471-487
Number of pages17
JournalAnnual Review of Entomology
StatePublished - 7 Jan 2018


  • behavioral manipulation
  • extended phenotype
  • host
  • neurobiology
  • parasites

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Insect Science


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