- 1The behaviour of predators can be an important factor in the transmission success of an insect pathogen. We studied how Calosoma sycophanta influences the interaction between its prey [Lymantria dispar (L.) (Lepidoptera, Lymantriidae)] and two microsporidian pathogens [Nosema lymantriae (Microsporidia, Nosematidae) and Vairimorpha disparis (Microsporidia, Burellenidae)] infecting the prey.
- 2Using laboratory experiments, C. sycophanta was allowed to forage on infected and uninfected L. dispar larvae and to disseminate microsporidian spores when preying or afterwards with faeces.
- 3The beetle disseminated spores of N. lymantriae and V. disparis when preying upon infected larvae, as well as after feeding on such prey. Between 45% and 69% of test larvae became infected when C. sycophanta was allowed to disseminate spores of either microsporidium.
- 4Laboratory choice experiments showed that C. sycophanta did not discriminate between Nosema-infected and uninfected gypsy moth larvae. Calosoma sycophanta preferred Vairimorpha-infected over uninfected gypsy moth larvae and significantly influenced transmission.
- 5When C. sycophanta was allowed to forage during the latent period on infected and uninfected larvae reared together on caged, potted oak saplings, the percentage of V. disparis infection among test larvae increased by more than 70%. The transmission of N. lymantriae was not affected significantly in these experiments.
- 6Beetles never became infected with either microsporidian species after feeding on infected prey.
- 7We conclude that the transmission of N. lymantriae is not affected. Because no V. disparis spores are released from living larvae, feeding on infected larvae might enhance transmission by reducing the time to death and therefore the latent period.