For aquatic mites parasitic on dragonflies, completion of their life cycle depends on their being returned to appropriate water bodies by their hosts, after completion of engorgement. We examined whether differences among hosts in timing of emergence or phenotypic attributes might affect their probability of return to an emergence pond, and hence success of mites. Parasitized males and females of the dragonfly Sympetrum obtrusum (Hagen) did not differ in overall recapture rates. Females that had wing cell symmetry and emerged early were more likely to be recaptured than females that emerged later or had wing cell asymmetry, but there were no consistent relations between these variables and parasitism by mites. No such relations between wing cell asymmetry, emergence date, and recapture likelihood were found for males. Using randomization tests, we found that mean intensities of Arrenurus planus (Marshall) mites at host emergence were the same for recaptured females and females not recaptured; however, males that were recaptured had lower mean intensities of mites at emergence than males not recaptured. Further, mature females carried more mites than mature males, and the latter had fewer mites than newly emerged males not recaptured. Biases in detachment of engorging mites do not explain the differences in parasitism between mature males and females, nor the differences in mite numbers between mature males and newly emerged males that were not recaptured. Rather, heavily parasitized males appear to disperse or die and are not recaptured, which should have implications for dispersal of mites and fitness of male hosts.
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