Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 28, Issue 5, pp 535–543 | Cite as

Patch Assessment for Oviposition by a Predator: the Effect of Prey Density and Prey Oviposition Period

  • P. G. Milonas
  • G. Partsinevelos
  • A. F. Martinou


Density dependent numerical response is considered advantageous for biocontrol agents. Although density dependent behaviors have been examined in aphidophagous ladybirds, they haven’t been studied for coccidophagous ladybirds. The relationship of prey density and prey oviposition stage on the aggregating behavior and oviposition of the coccidophagous predator Nephus includens (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) was empirically investigated. In a semi-field experiment potted citrus trees were artificially infested with Planococcus citri (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae) prey in order to obtain two densities, one mealybug and ten mealybugs per tree. Released N. includens adults were found to aggregate at citrus trees with high prey density. In a subsequent laboratory experiment four prey densities of P. citri were used ranging from 1 to 8 adult mealybugs at 3 ovipositional stages, a) at the young gravid female stage, b) at mid oviposition (half of egg load oviposited) and c) at the end of the ovipositional period (full egg load oviposited). Nephus includens females increased their oviposition rate as prey density increased and as prey oviposition progressed. It is hypothesized that this behavior of the predator might be advantageous for offspring survival and the efficacy of N. includens as a biological control agent against mealybugs.


Coleoptera coccinellidae pseudococcidae Nephus includens oviposition 



This work was conducted with the financial support from the General Secretariat of Research and Technology of the Greek Ministry of Research under a bilateral cooperation for research of Greece and France (GSRT 228 e). We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments that greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. G. Milonas
    • 1
  • G. Partsinevelos
    • 1
  • A. F. Martinou
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyBenaki Phytopathological InstituteKifisiaGreece
  2. 2.Joint Services Health Unit (Cyprus)RAF AkrotiriAkrotiriCyprus

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