The current approach for studying host selection by phytophagous insects is mainly based on optimal oviposition theory, i.e. the preference–performance hypothesis. Almost no attention has been given to optimal foraging theory. However, recent papers and additional evidence given in this work illustrate that also optimal foraging may shape host preference patterns of phytophagous insects. Therefore and because optimal foraging and optimal oviposition may oppose conflicting needs to phytophagous insects, we plea for an integration of optimal foraging and optimal oviposition in plant–insect research. We argue how this may improve our understanding of plant–insect interactions.