Allocating time between feeding, resting and moving by the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae and its predator Phytoseiulus persimilis

Abstract

This study characterizes the timing of feeding, moving and resting for the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae Koch and a phytoseiid predator, Phytoseiulus persimilis Athias-Henriot. Feeding is the interaction between T. urticae and plants, and between P. persimilis and T. urticae. Movement plays a key role in locating new food resources. Both activities are closely related to survival and reproduction. We measured the time allocated to these behaviours at four ages of the spider mite (juveniles, adult females immediately after moult and adult females 1 and 3 days after moult) and two ages of the predatory mite (juveniles and adult females). We also examined the effect of previous spider mite-inflicted leaf damage on the spider mite behaviour. Juveniles of both the spider mite and the predatory mite moved around less than their adult counterparts. Newly emerged adult female spider mites spent most of their time moving, stopping only to feed. This represents the teneral phase, during which adult female spider mites are most likely to disperse. With the exception of this age group, spider mites moved more and fed less on previously damaged than on clean leaves. Because of this, the spider mite behaviour was initially more variable on damaged leaves. Phytoseiulus persimilis rested at all stages for a much larger percentage of the time and spent less time feeding than did T. urticae; the predators invariably rested in close proximity to the prey. Compared to adult predators, juveniles spent approximately four times as long handling a prey egg. The predator-prey interaction is dependent upon the local movement of both the predators and prey. These details of individual behaviours in a multispecies environment can provide an understanding of population dynamics.

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Bancroft, J.S., Margolies, D.C. Allocating time between feeding, resting and moving by the two-spotted spider mite, Tetranychus urticae and its predator Phytoseiulus persimilis . Exp Appl Acarol 20, 391–404 (1996). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00130552

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Key words

  • Behaviour
  • trophic interactions