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Factors influencing the duration of death feigning in Eucryptorrhynchus scrobiculatus and E. brandti (Coleoptera: Curculionidae)


Death feigning is an adaptive defence strategy that improves survival rates, often by decreasing predation risk. Although death-feigning behavior has been documented in many animals, the study on insects has gradually attracted more focus. Previous study reported two weevil species—Eucryptorrhynchus scrobiculatus (ESCR) and E. brandti (EBRA)—considered forestry pests, and exhibited death-feigning behavior. To examine the trade-off between the particular anti-predator behaviors and prey fitness, we endeavoured to experimentally determine how temporal (age), activity, and diurnal rhythm may affect death-feigning duration. We found that the death-feigning duration was gradually increased and then decreased with the increased age, and the variation appeared on 5 days. The death-feigning duration during the day (the zeitgeber time, ZT12) was shorter than during the night (the zeitgeber time, ZT5 and ZT24) for both species. However, ESCR weevils with lower locomotor activity displayed longer death-feigning durations. The significant correlations between age, activity, diurnal rhythm, and death feigning would provide the timescale when death-feigning pests were likely to be caught by natural enemies, which help us fully understand the behavioral rhythm to develop novel methods of biological pest control.

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We thank the Forest Quarantine Station in Lingwu for providing the laboratory space and experimental equipment. We thank Ganyu Zhang, Qian wang, Wenjuan Guo, Xuewen Sun, Weicheng Ding, and Hongyu Li for their support. The authors do not have any conflicts of interest to declare. We thank LetPub ( for its linguistic assistance during the preparation of this manuscript.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (32071774).

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Correspondence to Junbao Wen.

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Li, H., Wen, J. Factors influencing the duration of death feigning in Eucryptorrhynchus scrobiculatus and E. brandti (Coleoptera: Curculionidae). J Ethol 40, 61–69 (2022).

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  • Death feigning
  • Tonic immobility
  • Thanatosis
  • Defence behavior
  • Anti-predator adaptation