Cannibalism and intraguild predation involved in the intra- and inter-specific interactions of the invasive fall armyworm, Spodoptera frugiperda, and lepidopteran maize stemborers
Cannibalism and intraguild predation can play important roles in determining spread and survival or death of organisms which share the same resource. However, the relationship between cannibalism and intraguild predation, and the costs and benefits of such behaviours, is difficult to establish within insect communities, and little is known about how such behaviours are affected by invasive species. The present study was aimed at assessing the interactions between larvae of fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) and maize stemborers (native to Africa, Busseola fusca, and Sesamia calamistis and native to India, Chilo partellus) in relation to cannibalism and intraguild predation when they utilize the same resource. Experiments involving treatments with either single species of S. frugiperda or any of the stemborers or pairwise species combinations with S. frugiperda were conducted under laboratory conditions. The experimental insect larvae were reared on maize leaves and monitored until the last developmental stage where cannibalism and/or intraguild predation, larval survival, and relative growth rate were recorded. Results of the intraspecific interaction indicated that S. frugiperda exhibited cannibalism to a larger degree than the stemborers species, especially at the late instars. The higher cannibalism trait in S. frugiperda turned, however, to competitive advantage as it led to a higher degree of intraguild predation when they cohabit with stemborer species and allowed FAW to gain a greater relative growth rate. Overall, interactions with FAW are detrimental for stemborer species and may be an important factor to explain the invasive success of S. frugiperda. Such knowledge is essential to understand the mechanisms behind ecological interactions between pests with overlapping niches in the field and in designing successful integrated pest management strategies.