Prenatal cannibalism in an insect

TitlePrenatal cannibalism in an insect
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2007
Authorsde Vries T, Lakes-Harlan R

Host selection and infection strategies of parasitoids often correlate with high parental investment and low numbers of progeny. In this study, we investigate how additional internal mechanisms might shape brood size and fitness of the offspring. Emblemasoma auditrix is a parasitoid fly in which about 38 larvae hatch simultaneously in utero. After host location, a single larva is deposited into the host, where it rapidly develops and pupates after about 5 days. The search for hosts can take several weeks, and during that time, the larvae arrest their development and remain in the first larval instar. Nevertheless, the larvae increase in weight within the uterus, and this growth correlates to a decrease in the number of larvae, although no larvae are deposited. Thus, our data indicate a first case of prenatal cannibalism in an invertebrate with larvae feeding on each other within the uterus of the adult.