Comparative use of Mindarus abietinus (Homoptera: Aphididae) by two coccinellids (Coleoptera: Coccinellidae), the native Anatis mali and the exotic Harmonia axyridis, in a Christmas tree plantation.
The exotic coccinellid Harmonia axyridis (Pallas) recently expanded its range into eastern Canada and elsewhere in North America. We hypothesized that this coccinellid should be less well adapted to the prey Mindarus abietinus Koch. on balsam fir trees than the native coccinellid Anatis mali (Say), which evolved in close association with aphids on conifers in North America. We compared, under field conditions, prey use by both species by collecting data on their synchrony with M. abietinus, their prey searching and predation behaviors, life stage distribution in fir canopy, and their overall reproductive success in this system. The seasonal life cycle of A. mali was better synchronized with that of M. abietinus compared with that of H. axyridis. In spring, A. mali adults appeared nearly 2 wk earlier on trees than H. axyridis and were active predators of the aphid fundatrices. A. mali oviposition thus began before the aphid population started to grow, and its larvae were most active during peak aphid colonies. Behavioral observations showed that both adults and larvae of the native A. mali searched for prey more actively than those of H. axyridis. Distribution of life stages also showed that eggs and pupae had different distributions on trees and that the adult-to-adult net reproductive rate of A. mali was three times higher than that of H. axyridis. Thus, the native A. mali was better adapted than H. axyridis to prey on M. abietinus, possibly because it evolved for a much longer period of time with this prey in conifer habitats.