Feeding behaviour and nutrient selection in an insect Manduca sexta L. and alterations induced by parasitism

J Comp Physiol A Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol. 2005 Oct;191(10):909-23. doi: 10.1007/s00359-005-0013-5. Epub 2005 Sep 29.


Manduca sexta L. larvae exhibit broad food acceptance with regard to nutrient content during the first 3 days of the last stadium. Larvae fed diets with a constant combined level of casein and sucrose, but variable ratios, display a linear relationship between protein and carbohydrate intake. Larvae grow best on a diet with equal nutrients, but will consume an excess of one nutrient in order to obtain an adequate amount of the other, as nutrient ratio shifts. Parasitized larvae feed similarly, but the nutrient ratio does not affect growth. Unparasitized larvae regulate intake of protein and carbohydrate when offered choices of protein-biased and carbohydrate-biased diets having combined nutrient levels of 120 g/l, but with variable ratios. Larvae normally consume equal amounts of nutrients, regardless of ratio, and grow similarly. As combined nutrient level is reduced in one diet, larvae abandon regulation and feed randomly. Parasitized larvae offered choice diets with 120 g/l combined nutrients do not regulate nutrient intake. Consumption of nutrients varies widely, but growth is unaffected. Larvae offered choices of diets having equal amounts of casein and sucrose but variable fat (corn oil), fail to regulate fat intake, although both unparasitized and parasitized larvae prefer a diet containing higher fat.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Diseases / parasitology
  • Animal Diseases / psychology
  • Animals
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Diet
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / pharmacology
  • Dietary Fats / pharmacology
  • Dietary Proteins / pharmacology
  • Eating / physiology
  • Feeding Behavior / physiology*
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / physiology*
  • Larva / growth & development
  • Larva / parasitology
  • Larva / physiology
  • Male
  • Manduca / growth & development
  • Manduca / parasitology*
  • Manduca / physiology*


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Dietary Fats
  • Dietary Proteins