The effect of interspecific mating on sex ratios in the twospotted spider mite and the Banks grass mite (Acarina: Tetranychidae)
Interspecific mating between the two-spotted spider mite,Tetranychus urticae Koch, and the Banks grass mite,Oligonychus pratensis (Banks), was documented using laboratory populations. The incidence of mating betweenT. urticae males andO. pratensis females was 26.0%, while that for the reciprocal mating was 18.8%. The incidence of mating was affected by both male and female species. Such matings may have several important ecological consequences. Interspecific matings resulted in all-male progenies. Thus, progeny sex ratios may be distorted by misdirected mating behavior. In addition, heterospecific mating resulted in lower fecundity than conspecific matings in the two-spotted spider mite, although not in the Banks grass mite. Aerial dispersal behavior of the two-spotted spider mite was also affected. Under crowded conditions and deteriorating resource quality, female mites exhibit an aerial dispersal posture that helps them to become airborne, and allows them to disperse long distances. Forty-two percent ofT. urticae females that mated with conspecific males exhibited this dispersal behavior, compared to only 3.6% for virgin females. The incidence of aerial dispersal behavior for females that mated with heterospecific males was intermediate (27.3%). The effects of these behavioral alterations on male and female fitness may depend on the population structure and resource distribution.