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Chemical protection of Calvia quatuordecimguttata eggs against intraguild predation by the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis

Abstract

Intraspecific and interspecific predation of eggs is a well documented phenomenon amongst aphidophagous coccinellids. The invasive species Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) is known to be a top intraguild predator and reported to attack the eggs of many coccinellid species both in a laboratory setting and in the wild. A previous laboratory study highlighted that while many species’ eggs were highly palatable to H. axyridis, the eggs of Calvia quatuordecimguttata (Linnaeus) (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) appeared to be extremely well protected from attack. Here we present the results of behavioural experiments testing the hypothesis that substances on the egg surface are responsible for this protection, and report preliminary results of GC-MS analysis of these compounds. When the coatings of C. quatuordecimguttata eggs were removed using hexane, they became significantly more susceptible to predation by neonate H. axyridis larvae. However, their overall palatability was not affected, in that complete consumption was never or rarely observed. This suggests that the surface compounds are a true indicator of unpalatability in this species. The effect of hexane-washing on already palatable conspecific eggs was also analysed but had no significant effect on the susceptibility of eggs to cannibalism. We conclude that the eggs of at least one European species are effectively protected by surface deterrents from intraguild predation by H. axyridis. This effect might be due to both the diversity and abundance of hydrocarbons present within the egg coating, the presence of alkenes and/or the presence of patches of a red substance on the eggs’ surface, which is thought to belong to the acid group. In conjunction with data on the susceptibility of other immature stages of C. quatuordecimguttata, this finding may indicate a decreased risk of the species falling victim to invasive H. axyridis, despite their coincident habitat ranges.

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Acknowledgements

The authors wish to acknowledge the help and support of members of the Cambridge University Department of Genetics Field Station in collecting and maintaining stocks in the UK, and of the Laboratoire d’Agroécologie (UMR CNRS 5174) at École Nationale de Formation Agronomique, Toulouse. We would also like to thank Dr. Francois Balloux from the Department of Genetics, University of Cambridge, for advice on statistical analysis.

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Correspondence to Remy Lian Ware.

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Ware, R.L., Ramon-Portugal, F., Magro, A. et al. Chemical protection of Calvia quatuordecimguttata eggs against intraguild predation by the invasive ladybird Harmonia axyridis . BioControl 53, 189–200 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10526-007-9129-6

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