Influence of phytophagous behaviour on prey consumption by Macrolophus pygmaeus
Abstract: Omnivorous Heteroptera constitute an important component of predatory guilds withhigh potential for biological control. Understanding the relative effects of plant feeding on thesuppression of prey by omnivores could be an important element for improving biological controlstrategies. In the current paper, the effects of different plant food sources on the predation rate ofthe omnivorous predator Macrolophus pygmaeus (Hemiptera: Miridae) were examined. In all theexperiments, second instar nymphs of the aphid Myzus persicae (Homoptera: Aphididae) wereused as prey at different densities. First, we evaluated the rate at which the predator preyed onM. persicae at various prey densities on pepper and eggplant leaves. Then, using eggplantflowers or pollen as additional food sources, we estimated predator efficiency for three differentprey densities. The predation rate was not affected by the type of plant leaf used. However, theresults showed that the predation rate of M. pygmaeus was significantly reduced when flowers orpollen were provided at high prey densities. The importance of these results in understanding theinfluence of phytophagy on predation rates of omnivorous predators is discussed.