Ant predation and the cost of egg carrying in the golden egg bug: Experiments in the field

Arja Kaitala, Xavier Espadaler, Risto Lehtonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Golden egg bug (Phyllomorpha laciniata) females lay eggs on the backs of both female and male conspecifics. Bugs receive eggs voluntarily and involuntarily, and even when males carry eggs, many eggs are not fertilised by the carrier. Carrying the eggs of another individual is unexpected, particularly if egg carrying bears a cost in survival. We examined the predation risk associated with egg carrying experimentally in the field. P. laciniata individuals were enclosed with workers of one of two ant species, Pheidole pallidula or Cataglyphis piliscapus, which co-occur with the bug in the wild. Pheidole pallidula workers preyed on golden egg bugs and their eggs, but Cataglyphis piliscapus workers did not. In P. pallidula enclosures, golden egg bugs carrying larger egg loads were eaten first. These results suggest that golden egg bugs experience high predation pressure and that egg carrying increases the risk of predation. Due to the direct survival costs associated with egg carrying and the lack of relatedness between the eggs and the carrier, we suggest the golden egg bug as the first known intraspecific parasite in which parasitism is not related to active parental care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)254-258
JournalOikos
Volume89
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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