Oviposition preference but not adult feeding preference matches with offspring performance in the bronze bug Thaumastocoris peregrinus

Gonzalo Martínez*, María Victoria Finozzi, Gissel Cantero, Roxina Soler, Marcel Dicke, Andrés González

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Optimal foraging and optimal oviposition are two major forces leading to plant selection by insect females, but the contribution of these forces to the host-selection process has been little studied for sucking herbivores. We studied feeding and oviposition behavior of a global pest, the bronze bug, Thaumastocoris peregrinus Carpintero & Dellapé (Heteroptera: Thaumastocoridae), using dual-choice bioassays to evaluate the preference of females between host species, developmental leaf stage, or prior plant exposure to conspecifics. We assessed the link between these preferences and the performance of the offspring, by comparing survival and developmental time of nymphs reared on the various treatments. Finally, we compared the composition of the leaf wax of healthy and damaged leaves, and tested the effects of leaf wax on female preference behavior. Using healthy adult leaves of Eucalyptus tereticornis Sm. (Myrtaceae) as a reference, we found that females prefer to feed on Eucalyptus grandis W. Hill ex Maiden and E. tereticornis adult leaves that had been previously damaged by female conspecifics, whereas they reject juvenile leaves of E. tereticornis as food. Females also prefer to oviposit on leaves previously damaged by conspecifics but they rejected E. grandis as oviposition substrate. Nymphal performance varied among leaf treatments, suggesting a correlation with oviposition preference (but not feeding preference). Epicuticular wax extracts from damaged leaves contained higher concentrations of long-chain, saturated linear alkanes, aldehydes, and alcohols than extracts from undamaged leaves. However, a choice assay failed to demonstrate an oviposition preference based on leaf surface wax chemistry. We discuss these findings in the context of the preference-performance relationship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-111
JournalEntomologia Experimentalis et Applicata
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Dual-choice assay
  • Forestry pest
  • Heteroptera
  • Host selection
  • Leaf epicuticular wax
  • Mother-knows-best hypothesis
  • Preference-performance linkage
  • Thaumastocoridae
  • True bugs
  • 017-4012


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