The presence of webbing affects the oviposition rate of two-spotted spider mites, Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae).
ABSTRACT Several species of tetranychid mites including Tetranychus urticae Koch (Acari: Tetranychidae) construct complicated three-dimensional webs on plant leaves. These webs provide protection against biotic and abiotic stress. As producing web is likely to entail a cost, mites that arrive on a leaf with web are expected to refrain from producing it, because they will gain the benefit of protection from the existing web. Mites that produce less web may then allocate resources that are not spent on web construction to other fitness-enhancing activities, such as laying eggs. To test this, the oviposition rate of T. urticae adult females was examined on leaves with web. As a control, we used leaves where the web had been removed, hence both types of leaves had been exposed to conspecifics previously and were thus damaged. On leaves with web, the oviposition rate of T. urticae females was higher than on leaves where the web had been removed. Therefore, the presence of web constructed by conspecifics enhanced the oviposition rate of T. urticae females. This provides indirect evidence that mites use the web constructed by conspecifics and thereby save resources that can be allocated to other traits that enhance reproductive success.