Parental care in the whitefly Aleyrodes singularis

  • Guershon M
  • Gerling D
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Summary 1. Patches of Aleyrodes singularis nymphs are characterised by a distinctive phenotype composed of the nymphs' exuviae, which are piled on the nymph, and by a covering layer of wax secreted by the adults; these characteristics have been found to confer defensive properties against natural enemies. 2. In contrast to the behaviour typical for ovipositing females of other aleyrodids, A. singularis females tend to remain near the patch of their progeny throughout their development. These mothers were therefore tested to show whether they exhibited active defensive behaviour towards natural enemies, beyond their contribution to passive defence achieved through the secretion of wax on the immatures. 3. The behaviour of whitefly adults differed significantly when performed in the presence of conspecific adults from their behaviour in the presence of natural enemies (either a parasitoid or a predator). The differences were expressed in the mean time devoted to some behavioural events, the frequency at which events were performed, and the number of transitions between pairs of events. 4. Most of the recorded behavioural differences were associated with departure of the natural enemies, facilitating immature survival. 5. This is the first report of active behavioural changes that convey defence of immature offspring for the family Aleyrodidae. Conditions characterising these findings and their relationship with those in which parental care is expected are discussed.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Aleyrodidae
  • Defence
  • Parasitoid
  • Parental care
  • Predator
  • Whitefly

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  • Moshe Guershon

  • Dan Gerling

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