Reproductive schedule and factors affecting soldier production in the eusocial bamboo aphid Pseudoregma bambucicola (Homoptera, Aphididae)
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- Shibao, H. Insectes soc. (1999) 46: 378. doi:10.1007/s000400050160
The reproductive characteristics of the soldier-producing aphid Pseudoregma bambucicola were studied in Kagoshima, Southern Japan, to know the factors affecting soldier production of eusocial aphids. The soldier proportion in aphid colonies was highest from October to November. In some large colonies, soldiers were observed in all seasons except in July when colony size was relatively small. Multiple regression analysis showed that the colony size was a principal factor affecting soldier proportion throughout a year. Other social or environmental factors such as aphid composition, host plant conditions and predator abundance were not always significant. Rearing experiments revealed that large colonies (≥1,000 individuals) produced soldiers in almost all seasons while small colonies (<1,000) never produced any soldiers. The caste-production schedule of adult females was examined in the field. When solitary females produced both castes, they usually produced normal nymphs first and then soldiers. Females from large colonies tended to produce more soldiers in the earlier period of their lifetime, whereas females from newly established small colonies produced no or only a few soldiers at later times. The average number of soldiers and normal nymphs produced consecutively by a single female was >10 and >20, respectively. Because they have a small number of ovarioles (<15 on average), females should alter caste production within the same ovarioles according to changes in environmental conditions. Artificial removal or introduction of predators and reduction of colony size did not affect soldier production over two successive generations, revealing maternal effects on soldier production. Females cannot shift caste production quickly in response to changes in predator abundance and colony size. This is probably due to early developmental determination of castes within the mother's body.