• Chrysomelidae;
  • hierarchy threshold model;
  • deprivation;
  • discrimination;
  • feeding behaviour


The hierarchy threshold model of individual insect diet predicts the acceptance or rejection of individual hosts when encountered by insects. One assumption of the hierarchy threshold model is that ‘post-discrimination phase’ insects which accept lower ranked hosts will also accept hosts that are ranked higher. This assumption does not however suggest whether or not such insects behave differently when encountering these two hosts. This question is explored using Zygogramma bicolorata Pallister (Coleoptera: Chrysomelidae). Adult beetles that had just fed, or were one inter-meal interval after feeding, or were deprived for three or six days after feeding, were individually observed on a plant that either ranked high, Parthenium hysterophorus L., or low Xanthium occidentale Bertol. (Heliantheae: Ambrosiinae) in choice tests. Just-fed beetles were generally unresponsive to either host plant and did not feed. Beetles held for one inter-meal interval showed more feeding responses (shorter lag time between sampling and feeding, higher proportions of individuals feeding, and more time feeding) towards the higher ranked plant. As the beetles approached six days deprivation, behaviours of sampling, feeding and locomotion differed less between the two plants, but were still apparent. I conclude that food deprived Z. bicolorata beetles do still discriminate between the two plants. This result partially supports the hierarchy threshold model.