Oviposition Behavior of Interacting Predatory Mites: Response to the Presence of Con- and Heterospecific Eggs

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Abstract

Oviposition behavior may be affected by the presence of potential future competitors, mates, or predators of offspring. We examined patch choice, oviposition site preference and egg production in the predaceous mites Phytoseiulus persimilis and Neoseiulus californicus (Acari: Phytoseiidae) when given a choice between paired spider mite patches with and without conspecific eggs, with and without heterospecific eggs, and with conspecific or heterospecific eggs. Neoseiulus californicus females had no patch preference and distributed their eggs randomly in all choice situations. This was also the case with P. persimilis females given a choice between patches with and without conspecific eggs and between patches with either con- or heterospecific eggs. Phytoseiulus persimilis females confronted with patches with and without heterospecific eggs preferentially stayed and oviposited in the predator free patches. We discuss the oviposition strategies of P. persimilis and N. californicus with respect to food competition, cannibalism and intraguild predation.

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