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Influence of food availability on mate-guarding behaviour of ladybirds

  • D.D. Chaudhary (a1), G. Mishra (a2) and Omkar (a2)

A recent study on ladybird, Menochilus sexmaculatus (Fabricius) demonstrates that males perform post-copulatory mate guarding in the form of prolonged mating durations. We investigated whether food resource fluctuation affects pre- and post-copulatory behaviour of M. sexmaculatus. It has not been studied before in ladybirds. For this, adults were subjected to prey resource fluctuations sequentially at three levels: post-emergence (Poe; 10 days), pre-mating (Prm; 24 h) and post-mating (Pom; 5 days; only female). The food resource conditions at each level could be any one of scarce, optimal or abundant. Pre-copulatory and post-copulatory behaviour, and reproductive output were assessed. Post-emergence and pre-mating nutrient conditions significantly influenced the pre-copulatory behaviour. Males reared on scarce post-emergence conditions were found to require significantly higher number of mating attempts to establish mating unlike males in the other two food conditions. Under scarce post-emergence and pre-mating conditions, time to commencement of mating and latent period were high but opposite result was obtained for mate-guarding duration. Fecundity and per cent egg viability were more influenced by post-mating conditions, with scarce conditions stopping oviposition regardless of pre-mating and post-emergence conditions. Present results indicate that pre- and post-copulatory behaviour of ladybird is plastic in nature in response to food resource fluctuations.

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