Defenders in the North American aphidPemphigus obesinymphae
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- Moran, N.A. Ins. Soc (1993) 40: 391. doi:10.1007/BF01253902
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Gall-inhabiting individuals of the aphidPemphigus obesinymphae act as defenders, protecting other colony members against attack by dipteran and neuropteran larvae that are the primary predators of this species. As first instar nymphs, the progeny of the fundatrix patrol surfaces of galls and adjoining leaves. These first instar nymphs attack potential predators by mounting and grasping them and inserting their stylets. This defensive behavior, which is not exhibited by nymphs in later instars, appears to be effective in reducing predation. The fundatrix typically produces defenders throughout the extended gall-inhabiting phase, and her progeny delay development beyond the defensive first instar stage. By August, galls contain an average of 101 defenders. Early death of the fundatrix reduces the number of defenders in the gall and advances maturation of defenders into winged migrants, which otherwise mature in September and October. InPemphigus, defensive behavior by first instar nymphs appears to have evolved in the context of several types of derived life cycle, each involving an extended gall-inhabiting phase.