• Locusta migratoria;
  • Schistocerca gregaria;
  • nutrient-allelochemical interactions;
  • tannic acid;
  • protein;
  • digestible carbohydrate;
  • dietary selection behaviour;
  • feeding patterns.

ABSTRACT The influence of simultaneously varying the levels in artificial diets of protein, digestible carbohydrate (14% or 28%) and tannic acid (absent or 10%) on the feeding behaviour of the oligophagous Locusta migratoria (L.) and the polyphagous Schistocerca gregaria (Forskal) (Acrididae) was investigated. Total consumption and detailed feeding behaviour were recorded over a 12 h period in choice and no-choice experiments. In addition, amounts eaten by Schistocerca of the 14% protein, 14% carbohydrate diet with and without tannic acid were measured at regular intervals throughout the fifth stadium, and insect growth over this period was recorded. There were no interactive effects of nutrient levels and tannic acid, despite the fact that both species compensated for dilution of dietary protein by increasing consumption. Only male Locusta compensated for dilution of dietary carbohydrates, and this compensation was much less marked than for protein. Tannic acid did influence feeding as a main effect, however. It caused an increase in amounts eaten by Schistocerca in both choice and no-choice experiments. This increased consumption was due to an increase in the number of meals taken. A shorter latency period before and a longer duration of the first meal by naive insects suggested a phagostimulatory rather than a post-ingestive effect of tannic acid. The stimulatory effect was only apparent for the first 24 h of continuous exposure, but this temporary enhancement none the less resulted in the insects being heavier at adult ecdysis. Stadium duration was also somewhat reduced. In a no-choice situation, no effect of tannic acid on the feeding behaviour of Locusta was observed. When given a choice, however, this species took significantly more meals on the tannic acid-free diet, these being of similar average size to meals taken on the tannic acid diet. Significantly more insects took their first meals on the tannic acid-free diet in the choice test, indicating a deterrent effect of tannic acid in Locusta.