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Consequences of scavenging behaviour in a plant bug associated with a glandular plant


Current address: Laboratory of Insect Ecology, Department of Forest Entomology, Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute (FFPRI), 1 Matsunosato, Tsukuba, Ibaraki 305-8687, Japan.


To elucidate the specific associations of insects with glandular plants, the relationship between a plant bug and a wild azalea was examined. The plant bug Orthotylus gotoi Yasunaga (Hemiptera: Miridae) was found only on shrubs of Rhododendron macrosepalum Maxim. (Ericaceae) in Kyoto, central Japan. R. macrosepalum has leaves, stems, and sepals with dense stalked glands that trap and kill many arthropods. However, nymphs and adults of O. gotoi are able to move freely on Rmacrosepalum. O. gotoi frequently fed on carcasses of various arthropods trapped on Rmacrosepalum, whereas it rarely fed upon plant tissues. In laboratory experiments, O. gotoi nymphs mainly fed on the carcasses of insects, which resulted in enhanced rates of growth and metamorphosis, and adult O. gotoi lived longer when they were provided with insect carcasses. These observations and experiments suggest that O. gotoi is a scavenger. Therefore, if O. gotoi mainly feeds on carcasses of arthropods, this may result in a specific dependence on the glandular plant. © 2006 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2006, 88, 593–602.