Egg attendance and brooding by males of the giant water bug Lethocerus medius (Guerin) in the field (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)

TitleEgg attendance and brooding by males of the giant water bug Lethocerus medius (Guerin) in the field (Heteroptera: Belostomatidae)
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication1993
AuthorsSmith RL, Larsen E
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Volume6
Issue1
Pagination93-106
KeywordsREPRODUCTION
Abstract

Males of the giant water bug Lethocerus medius (Guerin) typify their monobasic subfamily, the Lethocerinae, in that they do not brood eggs attached to their backs as do males of all members of the subfamily Belostomatinae. Exclusive male parental investment as expressed in the Belostomatinae is extremely rare behavior among animals, and evolution of the trait is obscure. Lethocerus medius males apparently remain with their mates through oviposition and are consistently found in attendance of eggs after the female has departed. This behavior may enhance paternity assurance at no cost in opportunity for polygyny. Two double clutches of eggs were found, from which we infer the potential for polygynous matings and shared parental investment. Male L. medius brood attended egg clutches above the surface of the water, where they may moisten them, shade them, and defend them against predation. Egg attendance/brooding by L. medius and other Lethocerus species may represent a plesiomorphic state from which paternal back-brooding evolved in the Belostomatinae.