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Keywords:

  • Coccinellidae;
  • food quality;
  • geographical distribution;
  • ladybirds;
  • lower developmental threshold;
  • pace of life;
  • sum of effective temperatures

Aphidophagous and coccidophagous ladybirds, similar to their prey, show marked differences in their pace of life (Dixon, 2000), in particular in their rate of development, with all stages of aphidophagous species developing much faster than those of coccidophagous species. Two hypotheses are proposed to account for the large difference in the pace of life of these two groups. These are that differences in the rate of development are a result of differences in lower temperature thresholds for development or the quality of their respective prey as food (Dixon et al., 2011). Analysis of published results on the rates of development of the eggs of ladybirds indicates that the inverse relationships between the number of day-degrees required for development (K) and the lower temperature threshold for development (tdmin) of these two groups are significantly different. In particular, the respective tdmin overlap and K of the aphidophagous and coccidophagous species with a similar tdmin are, on average, 38 and 117 day-degrees (Do). The relationship between the rate of development (R) and temperature (T) for aphids reared on poor- or high-quality foods indicates that, although the value of tdmin of a species depends on food quality, K does not, showing that it is unlikely that K is governed by food quality. Thus, there is little support for differences in either the tdmin or food quality governing the difference in the pace of life of these two groups of ladybirds. The results indicate that the physiological mechanism that may govern the difference in the pace of life between these two groups is the number of day-degrees (K) needed to complete their development. The possible evolutionary reason for this is discussed.