Eur. J. Entomol. 105 (4): 619-623, 2008 | 10.14411/eje.2008.083

Role of excreta in predator avoidance by the Kanzawa spider mite, Tetranychus kanzawai (Acari: Tetranychidae)

Keiko OKU1,2,3
1 Laboratory of Evolutionary Ecology, Graduate School of Environmental Science, Okayama University, Okayama, 700-8530, Japan
2 Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University, PO Box 8031, 6700 EH, Wageningen, The Netherlands
3 National Agricultural Research Center, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8666, Japan; e-mail: okeiko@affrc.go.jp

The Kanzawa spider mite, Tetranychus kanzawai (Acari: Tetranychidae) constructs webs over leaf surfaces and usually lives under these webs. T. kanzawai produces two types of excreta, black and yellow pellets, and uses its webs as a place for excretion. T. kanzawai also uses its webs as a refuge when the predatory mite, Neoseiulus womersleyi (Acari: Phytoseiidae) is present. To clarify what factors deter N. womersleyi from foraging on T. kanzawai webs, I experimentally examined the effects of T. kanzawai excreta on its own fitness (fecundity) and the foraging behaviour of N. womersleyi. When the excreta of T. kanzawai was put on leaf surfaces, the fecundity of T. kanzawai adult females was reduced by the black but not the yellow faecal pellets. On the other hand, predation by N. womersleyi was reduced by the yellow but not the black pellets. Although this effect of the yellow pellets on N. womersleyi did not last on leaf surfaces, it deterred N. womersleyi from staying on the web regardless of its freshness. These results suggest that T. kanzawai deposits black pellets on webs to avoid its negative effect on their own fitness, and yellow pellets are deposited on webs to reduce the risk of predation.

Keywords: Tetranychidae, Tetranychus kanzawai, Phytoseiidae, Neoseiulus womersleyi, predator avoidance, refuge, webs, excreta

Received: December 5, 2007; Accepted: June 9, 2008; Published: October 24, 2008

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