Experimental & Applied Acarology

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 47–62 | Cite as

Prey kills predator: Counter-attack success of a spider mite against its specific phytoseiid predator

  • Yutaka Saitō


Success of counter-attack by the spider mite,Schizotetranychus celarius (Banks), against its specific phytoseiid predator,Typhlodromus bambusae Ehara, was examined under experimental conditions. The success of counter-attack by prey females (“mothers”) against a predaceous larva depended upon the former's density per nest. About 30% of the predaceous larvae were killed when they intruded into a nest containing eight females and their offspring. On the other hand, the prey males (“fathers”) effectively killed the predators, i.e. one male in the nest killed ca. 40% of the predators while two or three males destroyed up to 80%.

The presence of prey parents in a nest considerably enhanced the success of the counter-attack. One male and two young females could kill 70% of the predator's larvae, while two males and two females killed 90% of such larvae. This suggests a kind of cooperative brood defence amongstS. celarius parents.

Although more robust, protonymphs of the predator also suffered damage by the prey's counter-attack. However, prey male and female could not destroy the predator's eggs and adult females, whilst the latter often killed spider mite adults.

From these as well as previous experiments, it is concluded thatS. celarius has evolved some kind of biparental care for its offspring. It is further proposed that the predator—prey interactions observed in this study provide a unique contribution towards understanding “predator—prey coevolution”.


Previous Experiment Adult Female Unique Contribution Young Female Prey Interaction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aoki, S., kurosu, U. and Usuba, S., 1984. First instar larvae of the sugar-cane woolly aphid,Ceratovacuna lanigera (Homoptera, Pemphigidae), attack its predators. Kontyu, 52: 458–460.Google Scholar
  2. Dawkins, R. and Krebs, J.R., 1979. Arms races between and within species. Proc. R. Soc. London, B, 205: 489–511.Google Scholar
  3. Gerson, U., 1985. Webbing. In: W. Helle and M.W. Sabelis (Editors), Spider Mites and Their Control. Elsevier, Amsterdam, Vol. A, pp. 223–232.Google Scholar
  4. Hughes, R.N. and Hughes, H.P.I., 1981. Morphological and behavioural aspects of feeding in the Cassidae (Tonnacea, Mesogastropoda). Malacologia, 20: 385–402.Google Scholar
  5. Lee, B., 1969. Cannibalism and predation by adult males of the two-spotted miteTetranychus urticae (Koch) (Acarina: Tetranychidae). J. Aust. Entomol. Soc., 8: 210.Google Scholar
  6. Lucas, J.R. and Brockmann, H.J., 1981: Predatory interactions between ant and antlions (Hymenoptera: Formicidae and Neuroptera: Myrmeleontidae). J. Kans. Entomol. Soc., 54: 228–232.Google Scholar
  7. Moitoza, D.J. and Phillips, D.W., 1979. Prey defense, predator preference, and nonrandom diet: the interactions betweenPycnopodia helianthoides and two species of sea urchins. Mar. Biol., 53: 299–304.Google Scholar
  8. Potter, D.A., Wrensch, D.L. and Jonston, D.E., 1976. Guarding, aggressive behaviour, and mating success in male two-spotted spider mites. Ann. Entomol. Soc. Am., 69: 707–711.Google Scholar
  9. Robinson, M.H., Abele, L.G. and Robinson, B., 1970. Attack autotomy: a defense against predators. Science, 169: 300–301.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Saitō, Y., 1983. The concept of “life types” in Tetranychidae. An attempt to classify the spinning behaviour of Tetranychidae. Acarologia, 24: 377–391.Google Scholar
  11. Saitō, Y., 1985. Biparental defence in a spider mite (Acari: Tetranychidae) infestingSasa bamboo. Behav. Ecol. Sociobiol., in press.Google Scholar
  12. Takafuji, A. and Chant, D.A., 1976. Comparative studies of two species of predacious phytoseiid mites (Acarina: Phytoseiidae), with special reference to their responses to the density of their prey. Res. Popul. Ecol., 17: 255–310.Google Scholar
  13. Takahashi, K. and Saitō, Y., 1980. Ecology ofSchizotetranychus celarius (Banks) and problems concerning its morphological variation. Proc. Jpn. Assoc. Acarol., 7: 3 (in Japanese).Google Scholar
  14. Vermeij, G.J., 1982. Unsuccessful predation and evolution. Am. Nat., 120: 701–720.Google Scholar
  15. Ward, P. and Wicksten, M.K., 1980. Food sources and feeding behaviour ofNautilus macromphalus. Veliger, 23: 119–124.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elsevier Science Publishers B.V. 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yutaka Saitō
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Applied Zoology, Faculty of AgricultureHokkaido UniversitySapporoJapan

Personalised recommendations