Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (3): 421-425, 2008 | DOI: 10.14411/eje.2008.053

Body size and the temporal sequence in the reproductive activity of two species of aphidophagous coccinellids exploiting the same resource

Alois HON╠K1, Anthony F.G. DIXON2, Zde˛ka MARTINKOV┴1
1 Research Institute of Crop Production, Drnovskß 507, CZ 16106 Prague 6 - Ruzyný, Czech Republic; e-mail: honek@vurv.cz
2 School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, NR4 7TJ, UK

The hypothesis that small species of aphidophagous coccinellids need lower aphid population densities for reproduction than large species (Dixon, 2007) was tested in the field. In 2006 we compared seasonal changes in the oviposition behaviour of two coccinellid species regularly found in cereal stands in central Europe, the large Coccinella septempunctata L. and the small Propylea quatuordecimpunctata (L.). Adults of both species were collected at 2-3 day intervals from stands of winter wheat and spring barley, females were allowed to deposit eggs for 24 h following collection and the percentage that laid eggs and the number of eggs were recorded. Both species colonized the cereal crop simultaneously in the middle of May. After colonization of the crop, while the aphid density was still low, few females of C. septempunctata oviposited and laid only a few eggs. Oviposition increased up to a maximum c. 1 month later and was closely associated with prey abundance. Of the females of P. quatuordecimpunctata, whose mass is about one quarter of that of the former species, the percentage ovipositing and number of eggs laid varied less in time and was less associated with prey abundance than in C. septempunctata. As predicted by theory, the small P. quatuordecimpunctata was more effective at exploiting the lower prey densities as it produced proportionally more of its eggs during the early stages of the aphid infestation than the larger C. septempunctata.

Keywords: Coccinella septempunctata, Propylea quatuordecimpunctata, Coccinellidae, Coleoptera, Dinocampus coccinellae, Braconidae, Hymenoptera, body size, reproduction, oviposition, prey abundance

Received: September 25, 2007; Accepted: January 29, 2008; Published: July 31, 2008

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