May predator body-size hamper furtive predation strategy by aphidophagous insects?
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Furtive predation is an uncommon predation strategy within aphidophagous insects, as it can be constrained by several factors. So far, the few reported furtive predators are characterized by their small body-size, vermiform shape, and slow movement. They live within the aphid colonies, without triggering significant defensive acts, nor disrupting colony structure. In this study, we aim to determine how body-size may prevent adoption of a furtive predation strategy. For that, the American hoverfly, Eupeodes americanus (Wiedemann) (Diptera: Syrphidae) was selected as a model species, according to the great body-size increase experienced during the larval stage. We hypothesized that smaller instars will be furtive predators, whereas larger ones will be active-searching predators. After the inoculation close to a pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum (Harris) (Hemiptera: Aphididae) colony, several behavioral parameters of the different larval instars were recorded. The elicited aphid colony disturbance was also evaluated and compared with that of the active-searching ladybird beetle, Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), and of the furtive predator, Aphidoletes aphidimyza (Rondani) (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae). Aphids showed significantly fewer defensive behaviors in the presence of E. americanus larvae than in the presence of the active-searching H. axyridis. Furthermore, our results clearly indicate that body-size increase was not a limit, since the three larval instars of the American hoverfly acted as furtive predators, just like the furtive A. aphidimyza. It is the first time a furtive predatory behavior has been recorded on such a large aphidophagous predator. The obtained results provide essential information about the biology of E. americanus, a potential biological control agent of aphids.
Is part ofPLoS ONE, 2021, vol. 16, núm. 9, p. 1-15
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