Nectar and pollen feeding by insect herbivores and implications for multitrophic interactions

Annu Rev Entomol. 2007;52:301-23. doi: 10.1146/annurev.ento.52.110405.091352.


Among herbivorous insects with a complete metamorphosis the larval and adult stages usually differ considerably in their nutritional requirements and food ecology. Often, feeding on plant structural tissue is restricted to the larval stage, whereas the adult stage feeds primarily or exclusively on plant-provided food supplements such as nectar and pollen. Research on herbivore nutritional ecology has largely been divided along these lines. Most studies focus on actual herbivory by larval stages, while nectar and pollen feeding by adult herbivores has been addressed mainly in the light of plant-pollinator interactions. Only recently have we started to realize that the two phenomena are closely interlinked and that nectar and pollen feeding by adult herbivores can have a strong impact on plant-herbivore interactions. Here we address this largely ignored aspect of multitrophic level interactions and discuss its wide-ranging implications.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbohydrate Metabolism
  • Ecosystem
  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food Chain*
  • Insecta / physiology*
  • Oviposition
  • Pest Control, Biological
  • Plant Physiological Phenomena
  • Pollen
  • Population Dynamics


  • Carbohydrates