Open Access Open Access  Restricted Access Subscription Access


Does size matter? Fecundity and longevity of spider mites (Tetranychus urticae) in relation to mating and food availability

Guangyun Li, Zhi-Qiang Zhang


Bigger animals tend to live longer than the small ones across species, but whether body size also has a robust relationship with survival within species remains to be determined. Here, the association between body size and fitness traits was examined through two food treatments (starvation and fed ad libitum) for both virgin and mated spider mites, Tetranychus urticae. The longevity of spider mites differed significantly across treatments, with feeding ad libitum increasing the survival of both males and females, mating decreasing male survival when starved and female survival when fed ad libitum. The body size of females but not of males increased with food. For each treatment, no clear correlations between body size and longevity were found. However, female fecundity was shown to have a positive relationship with body size. These results suggested that within species, for spider mites, there is no clear association between body size and longevity, but the fecundity increased with the body size, although this association is weak.


food availability, starvation tolerance, mating status, body size, fecundity, longevity


Ackerman J.L., Bellwood D.R. & Brown J.H. (2004) The contribution of small individuals to density-body size relationships: examination of energetic equivalence in reef fishes. Oecologia, 139, 568–571.

Andersson, M.B. (1994) Sexual selection. Princeton, NJ, Princeton University Press, 624 pp.

Archer, C.R., Zajitschek, F., Sakaluk, S.K., Royle, N.J. & Hunt, J. (2012) Sexual selection affects the evolution of lifespan and ageing in the decorated cricket Gryllodes sigillatus. Evolution, 66(10), 3088–3100.

Blanckenhorn, W.U. (2005) Behavioral causes and consequences of sexual size dimorphism. Ethology, 111(11), 977–1016.

Blanckenhorn, W.U., Stillwell, R.C., Young, K.A., Fox, C.W. & Ashton, K.G. (2006) When Rensch meets Bergmann: does sexual size dimorphism change systematically with latitude? Evolution, 60(10), 2004–2011.

Boivin, G. & Ellers, J. (2016) Replacing qualitative life-history traits by quantitative indices in parasitoid evolutionary ecology. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 159(2), 163–171.

Branson, D.H. (2008) Influence of individual body size on reproductive traits in melanopline grasshoppers (Orthoptera: Acrididae). Journal of Orthoptera Research, 17(2), 259–263.

Brown J.H., Gillooly J.F., Allen A.P., Savage V.M. & West G.B. (2004) Toward a metabolic theory of ecology. Ecology, (85), 1771–1789.

Chen, L., Onagbola, E.O. & Fadamiro, H.Y. (2005) Effects of temperature, sugar availability, gender, mating, and size on the longevity of phorid fly Pseudacteon tricuspis (Diptera: Phoridae). Environmental Entomology, 34(2), 246–255.

Chippindale, A.K., Chu, T.J. & Rose, M.R. (1996) Complex trade-offs and the evolution of starvation resistance in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution, 50(2), 753–766.

Cohen, J.E., Jonsson, T., Müller, C.B., Godfray, H.C.J. & Savage, V.M. (2005) Body sizes of hosts and parasitoids in individual feeding relationships. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 102(3), 684–689.

Dale, J., Dunn, P.O., Figuerola, J., Lislevand, T., Székely, T. & Whittingham, L.A. (2007) Sexual selection explains Rensch's rule of allometry for sexual size dimorphism. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 274(1628), 2971–2979.

Depczynski, M. & Bellwood, D.R. (2006) Extremes, plasticity, and invariance in vertebrate life history traits: insights from coral reef fishes. Ecology, 87(12), 3119–3127.[3119:EPAIIV]2.0.CO;2

Delgado, J., Gömez, E., Palma, J.L., Gonzalez, J., Monteseirin, F.J., Martinez, A., Martïnez, J. & Conde, J. (1994) Occupational rhinoconjunctivitis and asthma caused by Tetranychus urticae (red spider mite). A case report. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 24(5), 477–480.

Fairbairn, D.J. (1997) Allometry for sexual size dimorphism: pattern and process in the coevolution of body size in males and females. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, 28(1), 659–687.

Finiguerra, M.B., Dam, H.G., Avery, D.E. & Burris, Z. (2013) Sex-specific tolerance to starvation in the copepod Acartia tonsa. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 446, 17–21.

Fox, C.W., Bush, M.L., Roff, D.A. & Wallin, W.G. (2004) Evolutionary genetics of lifespan and mortality rates in two populations of the seed beetle, Callosobruchus maculatus. Heredity, 92(3), 170.

Goatley, C.H.R. & Bellwood, D.R. (2016) Body size and mortality rates in coral reef fishes: a three-phase relationship. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 283(1841), 20161858.

Gotthard, K., Berger, D. & Walters, R. (2007) What keeps insects small? Time limitation during oviposition reduces the fecundity benefit of female size in a butterfly. The American Naturalist, 169(6), 768–779.

Himuro, C. & Fujisaki, K. (2010) Mating experience weakens starvation tolerance in the seed bug Togo hemipterus (Heteroptera: Lygaeidae). Physiological Entomology, 35(2), 128–133.

Isaac, J.L. (2005) Potential causes and life-history consequences of sexual size dimorphism in mammals. Mammal Review, 35(1), 101–115.

Johnson, T.E., Henderson, S., Murakami, S., De Castro, E., de Castro, S.H., Cypser, J., Rikke, B., Tedesco, P. & Link, C. (2002) Longevity genes in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans also mediate increased resistance to stress and prevent disease. Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease, 25(3), 197–206.

Khazaeli, A.A., Van Voorhies, W. & Curtsinger, J.W. (2005) Longevity and metabolism in Drosophila melanogaster: Genetic correlations between lifespan and age-specific metabolic rate in populations artificially selected for long life. Genetics, 169(1), 231–242.

Khazaeli, A.A., Van Voorhies, W. & Curtsinger, J.W. (2005) The relationship between life span and adult body size is highly strain-specific in Drosophilame lanogaster. Experimental Gerontology, 40(5), 377–385.

Landry, S.V., DeFoliart, G.R. & Hogg, D.B. (1988) Adult body size and survivorship in a field population of Aedes triseriatus. Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, 4(2), 121–128.

Lauzière, I., Pérez-Lachaud, G. & Brodeur, J. (2014) Effect of female body size and adult feeding on the fecundity and longevity of the parasitoid Cephalonomia stephanoderis Betrem (Hymenoptera: Bethylidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 93(1), 103–109.[0103:EOFBSA]2.0.CO;2

Lithgow, G.J. & Walker, G.A. (2002) Stress resistance as a determinate of C. elegans lifespan. Mechanisms of Ageing and Development, 123(7), 765–771.

Lopez, V.M. & Hoddle, M.S. (2014) Effects of body size, diet, and mating on the fecundity and longevity of the goldspotted oak borer (Coleoptera: Buprestidae). Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 107(2), 539–548.

Macke, E., Magalhaes, S., Do-Thi Khanh, H., Frantz, A., Facon, B. & Olivieri, I. (2012) Mating modifies female life history in a haplodiploid spider mite. The American Naturalist, 179(5), E147–E162.

Ménard, A., Turgeon, K., Roche, D.G., Binning, S.A. & Kramer, D.L. (2012) Shelters and their use by fishes on fringing coral reefs. PLoS ONE, 7, e38450.

Montserrat, M., Bas, C. & Magalhães, S. (2007) Predators induct egg retention in prey. Behavioral Ecology, 150(4), 699–705.

Munday, P.L. & Jones, G.P. (1998) Ecological implications of small body size among coral-reef fishes. Oceanography and Marine Biology, 36, 373–411.

Nash, K.L., Graham, N.A.J., Wilson, S.K. & Bellwood, D.R. (2013) Cross-scale habitat structure drives fish body size distributions on coral reefs. Ecosystems, 16, 478–490.

Norry, F.M. & Loeschcke, V. (2002) Temperature-induced shifts in associations of longevity with body size in Drosophila melanogaster. Evolution, 56(2), 299–306.

Norry, F.M. & Loeschcke, V. (2003) Heat-induced expression of a molecular chaperone decreases by selecting for long-lived individuals. Experimental Gerontology, 38(6), 673–681.

Oku, K. (2010) Males of the two-spotted spider mite attempt to copulate with mated females: effects of double mating on fitness of either sex. Experimental and Applied Acarology, 50(2), 107.

Rapkin, J., Jensen, K., Archer, C.R., House, C.M., Sakaluk, S.K., Castillo, E.D. & Hunt, J. (2018) The geometry of nutrient space-based life-history trade-offs: sex-specific effects of macronutrient intake on the trade-off between encapsulation ability and reproductive effort in decorated crickets. The American Naturalist, 191(4), 452–474.

Rea, S.L., Wu, D., Cypser, J.R., Vaupel, J.W. & Johnson, T.E. (2005) A stress-sensitive reporter predicts longevity in isogenic populations of Caenorhabditis elegans. Nature Genetics, 37(8), 894.

Ricklefs, R.E. (2010) Life-history connections to rates of aging in terrestrial vertebrates. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107(22), 10314–10319.

Samaras, T. (2014) Evidence from eight different types of studies showing that smaller body size is related to greater longevity. Journal of Scientific Research and Reports, 3(16), 2150–60.

Samaras, T.T. (2007) Human body size and the laws of scaling: physiological, performance, growth, longevity and ecological ramifications. Haupauge, NY, Nova Publishers, pp. 63–112.

Samaras, T.T., Storms, L.H. & Elrick, H. (2002) Longevity, mortality and body weight. Ageing research reviews, 1(4), 673–691.

Sato, Y., Mori, K. & Chittenden, A.R. (1999) Body characters reflecting the body size of spider mites in flattened specimens (Acari, Tetranychidae). Applied Entomology and Zoology, 34(3), 383–386.

Satoh, Y., Yano, S. & Takafuji, A. (2001) Mating strategy of spider mite, Tetranychus urticae (Acari: Tetranychidae) males: postcopulatory guarding to assure paternity. Applied Entomology and Zoology, 36(1), 41-45.

Scharf, I., Feldman, A., Novosolov, M., Pincheira-Donoso, D., Das, I., Böhm, M., Uetz, P., Torres-Carvajal, O., Bauer, A., Roll, U. & Meiri, S. (2015) Late bloomers and baby boomers: ecological drivers of longevity in squamates and the tuatara. Global Ecology and Biogeography, 24(4), 396–405.

Speakman, J.R. (2005) Body size, energy metabolism and lifespan. Journal of Experimental Biology, 208(9), 1717–1730.

Stazione, L., Norry, F.M. & Sambucetti, P. (2017) Thermal-specific patterns of longevity and fecundity in a set of heat-sensitive and heat-resistant genotypes of Drosophila melanogaster. Entomologia Experimentalis et Applicata, 165(2–3), 159–168.

Szekely, T., Lislevand, T. & Figuerola, J. (2007) Sexual size dimorphism in birds. Sex, size and gender roles: evolutionary studies of sexual size dimorphism. Oxford University Press, pp. 27–37.

Tessier, A.J., Henry, L.L., Goulden, C.E. & Durand, M.W. (1983) Starvation in Daphnia: Energy reserves and reproductive allocation1. Limnology and Oceanography, 28(4), 667–676.

Therneau, T.M. & Thomas, L. (2015) Survival analysis. R package version 3.2.0. Retrieved from

Threlkeld, S.T. (1976) Starvation and the size structure of zooplankton communities. Freshwater Biology, 6(6), 489–496.

Travers, L.M., Garcia-Gonzalez, F. & Simmons, L.W. (2015) Live fast die young life history in females: evolutionary trade-off between early life mating and lifespan in female Drosophila melanogaster. Scientific Reports, 5, 15469.

Valcu, M., Dale, J., Griesser, M., Nakagawa, S. & Kempenaers, B. (2014) Global gradients of avian longevity support the classic evolutionary theory of ageing. Ecography, 37(10), 930–938.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

An international journal of the Systematic and Applied Acarology Society

ISSN 1362-1971