The time allocated by omnivorous predators to consuming prey versus plant-provided foods (e.g., pollen) directly influences their efficacy as biocontrol agents of agricultural pests. Nonetheless, diet shifting between these two very different food sources remains poorly understood. We hypothesized that previous diet composition influences subsequent choice of prey and plant food types. We tested this hypothesis by observing the foraging choices of Amblyseius swirskii (Athias-Henriot) mites (Mesostigmata: Phytoseiidae), which were first maintained on either prey (broad mites) or corn pollen, and then offered familiar and unfamiliar foods. A. swirskii exhibited strong fidelity to familiar food, whether prey or pollen, suggesting there are physiological or behavioral costs involved in shifting between such different foods. Results illustrate the importance of previous diet for subsequent pest consumption by omnivorous natural enemies.
Keywords: Amblyseius swirskii; Phytoseiidae; diet shifting; omnivory; pollen.
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