Menochilus sexmaculatusF. (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae) is a generalist predator with potential as a biological control candidate for suppressing many insect pests, including the cotton mealybug, Phenacoccus solenopsis Tinsley (Hemiptera: Pseudococcidae). However, the potential control capacity of M. sexmaculatus on P. solenopsis may depend not only on its fitness and predatory efficacy, but also on the consequences of both conspecific and heterospecific interactions with other individuals that share the same resource. This study investigated the aggressiveness and vulnerability of different life stages of M. sexmaculatus when encountering various stages of M. sexmaculatus or Harmonia axyridis (Pallas). The results showed that M. sexmaculatus could act as predator and/or prey with the presence of conspecific and heterospecific ladybird beetles. The success of predation is affected by the ladybird beetle life stage and, in most cases, young stages of the ladybird beetles were most susceptible to relatively older life stages of ladybird beetles. Predation between M. sexmaculatus/H. axyridis larvae of the same developmental stage was always asymmetric, favoring H. axyridis. Moreover, M. sexmaculatus exhibited intensive aggressiveness toward their own species over heterospecific individuals, but was more vulnerable to H. axyridis than to M. sexmaculatus individuals. Overall, H. axyridis could negatively affect the population densities of M. sexmaculatus by its high aggressiveness and low vulnerability. However, because our study was conducted in an oversimplified and confined area, more research should be conducted under more realistic conditions to explore the impacts of H. axyridis on the population dynamics of M. sexmaculatus.
Also affiliated with Guangdong Laboratory for Lingnan Modern Agriculture, Guangzhou 510642, China.
Current address: Chongqing Key Laboratory of Vector Insects, College of Life Sciences, Chongqing Normal University, Chongqing 401331, China.
State Key Laboratory of Crop Stress Biology for Arid Areas, and Key Laboratory of Integrated Pest Management on Crops in Northwestern Loess Plateau of Ministry of Agriculture, College of Plant Protection, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China.