Plant and prey consumption cause a similar reductions in cannibalism by an omnivorous bug

Mika Leon-Beck, Moshe Coll*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Cannibalism is usually more intense when other food sources are scarce, be it prey or plant-based foods. We hypothesized that feeding on plants would reduce cannibalism to a lesser extent than feeding on prey, because plants are considered nutritionally inferior compared to prey. We used the omnivorous bug Orius laevigatus Say (Heteroptera: Anthocoridae) to test this prediction. Starved female bugs were individually held with five second-instar conspecific nymphs and offered (i) Helicoverpa armigera eggs (prey); (ii) pollen (plant); (iii) H. armigera eggs and pollen (prey+plant); or (iv) no eggs or pollen. Fewer cannibalistic events and shorter feedings on conspecifics were recorded in the presence of pollen, prey or both than in their absence. Data therefore do not support our hypothesis that cannibalism is differentially affected by foods of different nutritional values. It seems that omnivorous feeding habits enable predators to sustain themselves on plant sources in the absence of prey, without the need to resort to cannibalism.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)67-76
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Insect Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2007

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank E. Miller for providing us with H. armigera eggs, R. Yonah & B. Yuval for valuable comments, and R. Yona for help with manuscript preparation. This research was supported by Research Grant Award No. TIE 04-05 from BARD, the United States-Israel Binational Agricultural Research and Development fund to M.C.


  • Cannibalism
  • Heteroptera
  • Omnivory
  • Orius laevigatus
  • Pollen
  • Zoophytophagy


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