Combined effects of allelochemicals, prey availability, and supplemental plant material on growth of a generalist insect predator

Authors

  • L. A Weiser,

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA
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      Department of Entomology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011, USA

  • N. E. Stamp

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, Binghamton University, State University of New York, Binghamton, NY 13902, USA
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Abstract

We examined the effects of the presence of plant allelochemicals in prey diet, prey availability and supplemental plant material on the growth of the generalist predator Podisus maculiventris (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae). We tested two different nymphal stages of this predator. Third to fourth instar nymphs and fifth instar nymphs were fed a diet of prey (Manduca sexta larvae, Lepidoptera: Sphingidae) without allelochemicals in their diet or prey fed maximal levels of allelochemicals (tomatine, rutin and chlorogenic acid) found in their host plant (Lycopersicon esculentum). The nymphs were fed prey ad libitum, once every three days, or once every five days. They were given either no supplemental plant material or a 2 cm slice of green bean pod (Phaseolus vulgaris). We also conducted another experiment with fifth instar nymphs using the same conditions, except that mean levels of allelochemicals found in the host plant were fed to prey instead of maximal levels and the prey were provided either once a day or once every five days. For all experiments, prey scarcity depressed developmental rate, weight gain and relative growth rate. Overall, there was no negative effect of allelochemicals in the diet of the prey on these variables when predators were supplied with an excess of prey, but allelochemicals in the prey diet negatively affected these predators when prey were scarce. The addition of plant material to the diet of third to fourth instar nymphs did not have any effect on developmental rate, final dry weight, or relative growth rate. However, for fifth instar nymphs, the addition of plant material negatively affected these variables. Thus, the addition of plant material to the diet of the nymphs did not alleviate the negative effects of prey scarcity or allelochemicals in prey diet.

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