Effects of the nest web and female attendance on survival of young in the subsocial spider mite Schizotetranychus longus (Acari: Tetranychidae)

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The subsocial spider mite Schizotetranychus Longus lives gregariously in woven nests on leaves of Sasa bamboo. Adults of both sexes defend their young against the predatory mite Typhlodromus bambusae. The effects of web and female attendance of this species on offspring survival were evaluated in a natural forest. Experimental removal of web and females revealed that S. longus young suffered greater mortality than in the control. Furthermore, the web made by parent females had a positive effect on offspring survival, possibly through preventing predators from intruding into the nest. Attendance of a female in a nest also had an effect on improving the survival rate of her offspring over a short period. We could not detect any function of the web and female other than protection against predators at least for the 5 day period of the experiment. The nest web of S. longus has an important function in the survival of young by preventing the entry of pedestrian predators (generalist) and females may play a role in defending against specialized predators which can intrude into the nests.

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