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Annu Rev Entomol. 2005;50:347-70.

Egg dumping in insects.

Author information

  • College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716-2160, USA. dtallamy@udel.edu


Females that place eggs under the care of conspecifics have been labeled egg dumpers. Egg dumping is an effective reproductive alternative that lowers risks for, and has the potential to increase fecundity in, its practitioners. Although insect egg dumpers can be social parasites of the maternal behavior of egg recipients, dumping is more likely to be a viable reproductive alternative when the costs to egg recipients are low and thus the defense by potential hosts against egg dumping intrusions is minimal. These conditions are met in insects that guard only eggs or in insects whose eggs hatch into self-supporting precocial young that need little beyond defense from parents. When this is the case, egg dumping is favored by natural and/or kin selection as a mechanism by which dumpers can avoid parental risks and increase fecundity, and egg recipients can enhance offspring survival by diluting predation.

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