Prey consumption rates and foraging behaviour of Macrolophus pygmaeus on tomato leaves of different plant strata and on tomato plants
Abstract: The present study was carried out to investigate the prey consumption rates and the foraging behaviour of the predator Macrolophus pygmaeus (Hemiptera: Miridae) on tomato leaves of different plant strata (i. e. lower, middle, top and apex leaves) and on tomato plants. For this reason, the prey consumption of a 24 h starved 5th instar nymph of the predator was recorded on tomato leaves on which the live prey had been glued. As prey, 20 nymphs of the 2nd instar of the aphid Myzus persicae (Hemiptera: Aphididae) had been used. Highest consumption was recorded on the lower leaves without differing from that on the middle leaves. Lowest consumption was observed in the apical leaves. The activities of the foraging predator on leaves of each category were recorded as a means to assess the reasons for variation in its prey consumption. It was revealed that the predator showed a higher frequency of dropping behaviour on the apex leaves than on the other leaves and spent a significantly higher amount of time in resting but particularly in grooming on apex than on lower leaves. Therefore, M. pygmaeus is more effective in searching and consuming its prey on middle and lower leaves than on top or apical leaves. In another experiment, it was revealed that the prey consumption of the predator was adversely affected by the increase of the distance between its release point and the place (middle leaf) where the prey patch had been established on tomato plants.