Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 93–106 | Cite as

Egg attendance and brooding by males of the giant water bugLethocerus medius (Guerin) in the field (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)

  • Robert L. Smith
  • Eric Larsen


Males of the giant water bug Lethocerus medius(Guerin) typify their monobasic subfamily, the Lethocerinae, in that they do not brood eggs attached to their backs as do males of all members of the subfamily Belostomatinae. Exclusive male parental investment as expressed in the Belostomatinae is extremely rare behavior among animals, and evolution of the trait is obscure. Lethocerus mediusmales apparently remain with their mates through oviposition and are consistently found in attendance of eggs after the female has departed. This behavior may enhance paternity assurance at no cost in opportunity for polygyny. Two double clutches of eggs were found, from which we infer the potential for polygynous matings and shared parental investment. Male L. mediusbrood attended egg clutches above the surface of the water, where they may moisten them, shade them, and defend them against predation. Egg attendance/brooding by L. mediusand other Lethocerusspecies may represent a plesiomorphic state from which paternal back- brooding evolved in the Belostomatinae.

Key words

Belostomatidae giant water bugs paternal care eggs reproduction behavior brooding evolution 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert L. Smith
    • 1
  • Eric Larsen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of ArizonaTucson
  2. 2.Department of BiologyVillanova UniversityVillanova

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