Biology and defensive adaptations in Rodatus major (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and its prey, Monophlebulus pilosior (Hemiptera: Margarodidae)

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Abstract

The biology of the Australian coccinellid Rodatus major (Blackburn) and its prey, the hemipteran margarodid Monophlebulus pilosior (Maskell), are described. New predators and a new parasite of M. pilosior are recorded. Rodatus major makes use of elaborate and distinctive defensive adaptations and behaviour to protect itself from predators. They include cryptic coloration, aposematic behaviour, production of wax by larvae, production of a large, thick protective covering concealing the pupa and resembling an M. pilosior ovisac, and reflex bleeding. It is the only known coccinellid species in which both prepupa and pupa are hidden by a protective shroud of wax threads. Rodatus major has a specialized feeding behaviour. Its potential as a biological control agent is assessed. It is only the second Australian margarodid-feeding coccinellid to be studied, Rodolia cardinalis (Mulsant) being the first.

Ancillary