Egg cannibalism is common in Coccinellidae, but its biological consequences have not been fully explored.We examined egg cannibalism by neonates, fourth instars, and adults of Hippodamia convergens Guerin-Meneville for effects on development, reproduction, and progeny fitness. We also tested female adults for ability to avoid cannibalizing their own eggs and first-instar larvae, and both sexes for changes in cannibalism propensity following mating, all in the presence of ad libitum food [larvae: eggs of Ephestia kuehniella Zeller (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae), adults: Schizaphis graminum (Rondani)]. Cannibalism by neonates reduced developmental time and increased male body size. Cannibalism in the fourth instar accelerated pupation and led to the production of eggs that hatched faster, regardless of which parent cannibalized. However, egg fertility was improved only by maternal cannibalism in the fourth instar. Females recognized their own egg clusters, sometimes added eggs to them, and preferentially cannibalized nonfilial clusters. Most gravid females cannibalized a first-instar larva within 30 min, whether filial or not. Adult egg cannibalism was similar for virgin males and females, but declined after mating in males, and increased in females, although it had no effect on fecundity or fertility. Daughters of cannibal pairs were heavier than those of other mating combinations, but offspring of noncannibal parents had the fastest development. Reproductive females appeared to use egg cannibalism to reduce risk for their own eggs, increasing the number cannibalized with the number laid. Thus, egg cannibalism in coccinellids varies with life stage, sex, and reproductive condition, independent of food availability, and benefits are life stage specific.
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Vol. 108 • No. 4