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Although pesticides are typically used to limit pest population, the diversity and nature of their unintentional effects on non-target organisms remain unclear. Better understanding these effects requires to carry out risk assessments on key physiological and behavioral processes specific to beneficial insects. In this study, we addressed this question by exposing mothers of the European earwig (a beneficial insect) to two sublethal doses of deltamethrin (a common pesticide in agriculture) during family life and measured the short- and long-term effects on a series of behavioral, physiological, and reproductive traits. Somewhat surprisingly, our results first revealed that high and low doses of deltamethrin enhanced mothers' future reproduction by augmenting their likelihood to produce a second clutch, shortening the number of days until its production, and increasing the resulting number of eggs and their hatching rate. Conversely, the high dose of deltamethrin was detrimental, as it limited maternal brood defence, and reduced food consumption and expression of self-grooming. Finally, other traits were independent of deltamethrin exposure, such as three proxies of family interactions (i.e., distance to the brood, occurrence, and duration of mother-offspring contacts), mothers' walking distance, and mother weight gain during family life. Our study overall demonstrates that sublethal exposure to a pesticide such as deltamethrin can have both positive and negative effects on non-target beneficial insects. It thus emphasizes that focusing on narrow parameters can lead to misleading conclusions about the unintended impacts of pesticides in treated agro-ecosystems and call for better considering this parameters diversity in integrated pest management programs. © 2021. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.


Emilie Mauduit, Charlotte Lécureuil, Joël Meunier. Sublethal exposure to deltamethrin stimulates reproduction and has limited effects on post-hatching maternal care in the European earwig. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2021 Aug;28(29):39501-39512

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PMID: 33754270

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