Cannibalism can have a large effect on population growth and survival in stressful environments, possibly including those created by insecticide use. In this study, we collected Colorado potato beetles from three isolated areas in the northeastern United States known for high levels of resistance to neonicotinoids. We measured resistance to imidacloprid in each of those populations, a laboratory susceptible population, and in hybrids between the three field populations and the laboratory susceptible population. We fed neonates eggs from resistant dams fed either imidaclopridtreated or untreated foliage to determine whether cannibals are exposed to toxins sequestered in eggs. We measured egg cannibalism by hatchlings within the clutch in each population and hybrids, and examined how fecundity and several variables associated with egg development varied among populations and with cannibalism, to see which traits might enhance or reduce cannibalism. Cannibalism varied significantly among populations, accounting for most of the variation in hatching success. Variability in egg development time and hatch rate in the absence of cannibalism in some populations affected rates of cannibalism. Resistance varied significantly among the field populations but was not related to cannibalism. Neonates fed eggs from dams on treated foliage showed signs of intoxication or death. Cannibalism appears to be part of a varying life history strategy in this species, with some populations laying larger and more cannibalistic clutches and the New York population laying smaller clutches with higher hatching success owing to reduced cannibalism.
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Vol. 43 • No. 1