Cannibalism in the pea aphid, Acyrthosiphon pisum

Lucy C. Cooper, Camille Desjonqueres, Simon R. Leather*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Previous observations of cannibalism have been made in the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (L.): this article seeks to quantify factors contributing to such behaviors. We observed and quantified the responses of a number of clones and life stages to varying levels of starvation, in the form of increasingly desiccated Vica faba L. plants (receiving 50, 25, or 10 mL every second day) or a complete absence of host plant. We found that, while the longest incidences of cannibalism are carried out by juveniles (F = 3.45, P = 0.019, df = 3) and targeted at adults, the starvation treatments had the most significant effect on the prevalence of cannibalism in mature A. pisum (F = 2.24, P = 0.025, df = 9). Furthermore, there was no difference between the prevalence or duration of cannibalistic activities within and between different clones (P ≥ 0.05 in all cases), though juveniles were more likely to target unrelated aphids (V = 6112, P = 0.011), and spent more time feeding on aphids from the same culture (V = 6062, P = 0.018).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)750-758
Number of pages9
JournalInsect Science
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2014


  • Acyrthosiphon pisum
  • Aphididae
  • Behavior
  • Cannibalism
  • Kin selection
  • Modularity


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