Patch Exploitation by female Red Flour Beetles, Tribolium castaneum


University of Arizona Library


The red flour beetle, Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) has had a long association with human stored food and can be a major pest in anthropogenic structures used for the processing and storage of grain-based products. Anthropogenic structures are fragmented landscapes characterized by spatially and temporally patchy resources. Here we investigate the ability of female T. castaneum to evaluate the quality of small patches of food and to adjust the number of eggs they lay per patch (i.e., clutch size) to maximize fitness gains. In multiple choice, paired choice and no choice experiments females tended to lay more eggs in larger amounts of flour. The number of eggs that they lay in a patch of flour was consistent with that predicted to optimize production of adults from that patch (i.e., the ‘Lack’ clutch size). Progeny size was only significantly impacted in the smallest patch sizes.

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