, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 201-211

Pre- and post-hatch trophic egg production in the subsocial burrower bug, Canthophorus niveimarginatus (Heteroptera: Cydnidae)

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In recent years, three terrestrial bugs, Adomerus triguttulus and Sehirus cinctus (Cydnidae) and the closely related Parastrachia japonensis (Parastrachiidae), have been the focus of several fascinating studies because of the remarkable, extensive parental care they were found to display. This care includes egg and nymph guarding, production of trophic eggs, unfertilized, low cost eggs that are used as food by newly hatched nymphs, and progressive provisioning of the host seed. In this study, we have investigated yet a third related Asian cydnid, Canthophorus niveimarginatus, with regard to the possible occurrence of some or all of these complex traits in order to assess how widespread these maternal investment patterns are in this group of insects and to better understand the implications of their manifestations from an evolutionary context. Manipulative experiments were carried out in the lab to determine whether females provision nests. Observational and egg removal studies were carried out to determine whether trophic eggs are produced, and, if they are, their possible impact on nymphal success. The findings revealed that C. niveimarginatus does, in fact, progressively provision young, and this species also displays all of the other behaviors associated with extended parental care in subsocial insects. Moreover, unlike the other two related species, which place trophic eggs on the surface of the original egg mass, C. niveimarginatus produces both pre- and post-hatch trophic eggs. Nymphs deprived of access to post-hatch trophic eggs had significantly lower body weight and survival rate than those that fed on them. To our knowledge, this is the first time the production of both pre- and post-hatch trophic eggs has been demonstrated in insects outside the Hymenoptera. In this paper, we qualitatively and quantitatively demonstrate the provisioning behavior and patterns of trophic egg production in C. niveimarginatus. When and how trophic eggs are produced and delivered to young should have important correlations with the ecological and life history constraints under which a species has evolved. Thus, we also discuss the possible ecological and life history factors that favor the evolution of post-hatch trophic eggs.