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Notes on paternal care and sibling cannibalism in the giant water bug, Lethocerus deyrolli (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)

Authors


Shin-ya Ohba, Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Graduate School of Natural Science and Technology, Okayama University, Tsushima, Okayama, 700-8530 Japan. Email: oobah8ag@yahoo.co.jp

Abstract

Males of the giant water bug, Lethocerus deyrolli, care for egg masses on vegetation above the water surface. They supply the developing eggs with water and guard them against predators. In the present study, mechanisms by which paternal care is extended were found. Males were found situated just below the water on the natal substrate (usually a stick), and the first instar nymphs were aggregated around the substrate. When disturbed, the males showed aggressive behavior, threatening the intruder with their forelegs. Nymphs up to 12 h old did not attack the offered sibling nymphs or anuran larvae, which are common prey in the field. The 24 h-old nymphs attacked both prey animals; however, they preferred anuran larvae. Cannibalistic behavior in the nymphs was well developed 72 h after hatching, when the nymphs had already dispersed from the natal substrate. The suppression of sibling cannibalism in younger nymphs would promote the maintenance of tight nymphal aggregations and consequently extend male care in this predatory species.

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