The effects of group size on the survival and development of young larvae ofPryeria sinicaMoore were investigated by laboratory and field experiments.
Under laboratory conditions, about 20% of isolated larvae died of unsuccessful feeding in the first instar, however, larvae survived successfully in aggregations of four or more individuals.
In the field, larvae emerge in early spring and wait for new leaves to open before feeding. In this period, the larger the group size of hatchlings the survival rate became higher. The nest-web spun by hatchlings was considered to play an important role in protecting them from desiccation. In the period that larvae began to feed on leaves, more than 36 larvae are necessary to aggregate for the successful establishment of feeding groups. The nest-web played an important role also in the establishment of feeding group. However, the natural group size of the first instar larvae was larger than the minimum group size to spin a sound nest-web in the field experiment.
On the other hand, in later stage, larvae in a large group did not have an excess advantage in survival or developmental rate over larvae in a small group. It was found that the experiments on survival and developmental rates could not explain the reason that this species maintain large compact groups in the most part of larval period.