Altruism during predation in an assassin bug

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Journal titleNaturwissenschaften
Pages913922; # of pages: 10
Subjectaltruism; ant; cannibalism; conspecific; egg; feeding; host plant; hunger; insect; myrmecophyte; predation; prey capture; prey size; shelter; Allomerus decemarticulatus; Drosera; Hexapoda; Hirtella physophora; Reduviidae; Zelus
AbstractZelus annulosus is an assassin bug species mostly noted on Hirtella physophora, a myrmecophyte specifically associated with the ant Allomerus decemarticulatus known to build traps on host tree twigs to ambush insect preys. The Z. annulosus females lay egg clutches protected by a sticky substance. To avoid being trapped, the first three instars of nymphs remain grouped in a clutch beneath the leaves on which they hatched, yet from time to time, they climb onto the upper side to group ambush preys. Long-distance prey detection permits these bugs to capture flying or jumping insects that alight on their leaves. Like some other Zelus species, the sticky substance of the sundew setae on their forelegs aids in prey capture. Group ambushing permits early instars to capture insects that they then share or not depending on prey size and the hunger of the successful nymphs. Fourth and fifth instars, with greater needs, rather ambush solitarily on different host tree leaves, but attract siblings to share large preys. Communal feeding permits faster prey consumption, enabling small nymphs to return sooner to the shelter of their leaves. By improving the regularity of feeding for each nymph, it likely regulates nymphal development, synchronizing molting and subsequently limiting cannibalism. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.
Publication date
AffiliationNational Research Council Canada (NRC-CNRC)
Peer reviewedYes
NPARC number21270726
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Record identifierd1a0a10e-b398-455b-a8fe-2d1d3831ca01
Record created2014-02-17
Record modified2016-05-09
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