It is currently unknown whether mating in Milnesium tardigradum is seasonal or occurs year-round. Mating systems have not been reported in the literature, but reproduction by parthenogenisis (females only) has been documented.
Milnesium tardigradum achieves reproductive maturity after the 2nd-instar stage, which is usually at 8-12 days old. Females may lay clutches of anywhere from 1-12 eggs (each approximately 80 µm long), with an average of 6.9 eggs per clutch. Once laid, time until hatching is 5-16 days. This species exhibits parthenogenesis, a common tactic in freshwater invertebrate species. The environmental cue responsible for the laying of male eggs has yet to be demonstrated.
Breeding interval: The frequency with which this species reproduces is currently unknown.
Breeding season: No specific breeding season has been documented for M. tardigradum
Range number of offspring: 1 to 12.
Range gestation period: 5 to 16 days.
Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 8 to 12 days.
Key Reproductive Features: iteroparous ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); parthenogenic ; sexual ; asexual ; fertilization (External ); oviparous
Egg clutches are deposited in the space between a female’s old and new cuticle. When the mother has completed molting and departs, the old cuticle remains to protect and feed the developing offspring.
Parental Investment: precocial ; female parental care ; pre-hatching/birth (Protecting: Female); pre-independence (Provisioning: Female, Protecting: Female)