The Effect of Ants on Membracid Nymph Growth Patterns: Size and Developmental Rate
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The relationship between F. obscuripes and the membracid nymph is crucial to the survival of the nymphs because the nymphs (being much smaller and less mobile than adults) are more susceptible to predation. The presence of ants has a positive effect on the abundance and survivorship of membracid nymphs. Ant-tending for two Homoptera species has been found to shorten the time spent during development and therefore possibly increase growth rate of the membracid nymph. The presence of F. obscuripes increases the size of the P. modesta membracid nymphs significantly more than when the ants are absent. However, from these findings, it is unclear as to whether the nymphs with ants present are bigger because they are at a later instar, or because they are bigger for a given instar. An increased size in most insects has been found to increase fitness, fecundity, success in overwintering, and decrease predation dangers.