Cannibalism, where one species feeds on individuals of its own species, and intraguild predation (IGP), where a predator feeds on other predatory species, can both pose significant threats to natural enemies and interfere with their biological control of pests. Behavioral mechanisms to avoid these threats, however, could help maintain superior pest control. Here, we ask whether larvae of Coccinella septempunctata (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) and Harmonia axyridis (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) respond to larval tracks deposited by the other and whether this behavioral response reduces the threat of cannibalism and IGP. In petri dish experiments, we show that both H. axyridis and C. septempunctata avoid foraging in areas with conspecific larval tracks. Using a method of preventing larvae from depositing tracks, we then demonstrate that the frequency of cannibalism is greater for both species when larvae are prevented from depositing tracks compared with when the tracks are deposited. For multi-species interactions we show in petri dish experiments that C. septempunctata avoids H. axyridis larval tracks but H. axyridis does not avoid C. septempunctata larval tracks, demonstrating an asymmetry in response to larval tracks that parallels the asymmetry in aggressiveness between these species as intraguild predators. On single plants, we show that the presence of H. axyridis larval tracks reduces the risk of IGP by H. axyridis on C. septempunctata. Our study suggests that larval tracks can be used in more ways than previously described, in this case by changing coccinellid larval behavior in a way that reduces cannibalism and IGP.
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