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Host defense in Nicrophorus quadripunctatus against brood parasitism by Ptomascopus morio (Coleoptera: Silphidae: Nicrophorinae)

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Few studies have been conducted on the host defenses of insects against brood parasitism. We investigated whether the silphid beetle Ptomascopus morio, a brood parasite of related silphid species Nicrophorus concolor, can also parasitize another silphid species Nicrophorus quadripunctatus and the manner in which N. quadripunctatus defends itself against parasitism. Successful brood parasitism under natural conditions was not observed at the time of year when P. morio and N. quadripunctatus are both reproductively active. Follow-up experiments revealed that P. morio attempts to oviposit near N. quadripunctatus nests, but is rarely successful if adult hosts are present. When P. morio larvae were experimentally introduced to N. quadripunctatus broods, some P. morio larvae survived when the host and parasite larvae were at the same stage. We concluded that N. quadripunctatus defends itself against brood parasitism in two ways: (1) potential brood parasites are repelled, thus limiting their access to the resource; and (2) the young of the parasitic species are killed.

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