Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Patrick Ferree

Reader 2

Sadie Otte

Rights Information

Julia N. Knolton


Are the N. vitripennis at two different locations in Southern California a part of the same population or two different populations? Nasonia are small parasitoid wasps that sting and lay eggs in the pupae of various fly species, primarily blowflies and fleshflies. This proposal zones in on the population structure of Nasonia vitripennis and the difference of fly species in different populations. Do N. vitripennis originate from a single population and disperse, or, do they emerge from multiple locations and establish their own populations? Blowflies and fleshflies are found all over Southern California, and they will help us determine whether N. vitripennis is closely related to the host, and if N. vitripennis in the coastal region and in the inland desert region are from the same population or different populations. In order to test our hypothesis, we will set one experiment in the Long Beach area which will attract flies and wasps that live and thrive in coastal areas, as well as one experiment in the Palm Springs area which will attract flies and wasps that live and thrive in desert/dry areas. In each location we will set up our trap with the appropriate materials. Once eggs are present in the trap, we will take images and write down notes about our observations. After collecting and analyzing the characteristics of the fly and N. vitripennis, we can use DNA extraction to confirm the presence of the blowy fly. We will use PCR to find our PCR product for sequencing, and use “Blast: Basic Local Alignment Search Tool” to run the query sequence and identify our species. There are two possible outcomes to this experiment. If there are two different populations at each location, then we would see that individuals from one location will be grouped on one branch, while individuals from the other location will form a different branch on the Nasonia tree. On the other hand, if wasps from two locations turn out to be from the same population, then we would see that individuals from both locations will be grouped together in one branch, and there would not be a clear distinction between the two locations. After the completion of this experiment we will be able to know more about the relationship between N. vitripennis and the blowfly, and how their relationship can help us determine population structures. We will then be able to apply our knowledge on a larger scale. We could potentially repeat the procedure in different types of environments, such as the sahara desert, or even just different locations along California. We could then go as far as to complete this experiment globally and determine the location of N. vitripennis populations, and see where they are the same and where they are different across the world. This experiment could have many different implications. What we learn from these experiments could help us learn about pests through biological parasites like wasps and how to maintain pest control (blowfly control). We could also learn about how different populations of N. vitripennis or blowflies can help scientists in the field of forensic science. Being able to study the life cycle and behavior of these insects could allow scientists and investigators to determine how long a cadaver has been in one particular location.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.