Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (1): 1-12, 2008 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2008.001

Why is Coccinella septempunctata so successful? (A point-of-view)

Ivo HODEK1, J.P. MICHAUD2
1 Institute of Entomology, Biological Centre, Czech Academy of Sciences, České Budějovice, 37005 Czech Republic; e-mail: hodek@entu.cas.cz
2 Department of Entomology, Agricultural Research Center-Hays, Kansas State University, Hays, Kansas, 67601 USA ; e-mail: jpmi@ksu.edu

Factors were examined that could be responsible for the predominance of Coccinella septempunctata (C7) in most habitats of the Palaearctic and for its successful invasion of the Nearctic Region. C7 is euryphagous, but less polyphagous than Harmonia axyridis or Coleomegilla maculata in that it cannot develop or reproduce on non-aphid food. The intraguild status of C7 is intermediate. Although adult size is large, preimaginal stages are palatable to those of H. axyridis and Adalia bipunctata, whereas it is not an intraguild predator of these species. Although these traits appear to be neutral or negative, many aspects of population plasticity are advantageous for C7, often acting in concert with a bet-hedging strategy. Given its high mobility and eurytopy, the inhibition of oviposition in the presence of conspecific larval trails represents an adaptive advantage that favors increased egg dispersal and lowers the risk of offspring mortality due to cannibalism. The ability to temporarily suspend oviposition, combined with heterogenous voltinism and diapause tendencies, enable a portion of C7 populations to feed and reproduce on unpredictably occurring aphid populations. An absence of reproductive diapause in males and pre-hibernation mating are other significant adaptations, along with the tendency to produce offspring in excess of the carrying capacity of local food resources. We suggest that one explanation for the broad geographic success of C7 resides in an ecological plasticity that is based on both genetic and phenotypic polymorphisms.

Keywords: Coccinellidae, ladybirds, Coccinella septempunctata, Harmonia axyridis, Adalia bipunctata, Coleomegilla maculata, biological control, diapause, diet, foraging, intraguild predation, migration, oviposition, polyphenism, reproduction, voltinism

Received: September 5, 2007; Accepted: November 2, 2007; Published: February 15, 2008

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