Close-range prey location, recognition and foraging decisions by the generalist predator, dicyphus hesperus knight (heteroptera: miridae)

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(Thesis) M.Sc.
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I investigated sensory modalities and cues used at close range by the generalist predator Dicyphus hesperus Knight (Heteroptera: Miridae) in location and recognition of prey. Vision was important for orientation, and olfaction and gustation for recognition of prey. Putative sense organs on the rostral tip and tarsi may be involved in gustation. Neither prey colour, nor shape impacted preference, which follows the idea of “limited attention” and its implications for generalists. Similarly, different prey elutions (by polarity/prey type) added to artificial prey elicited equivalent levels of response. A clumped distribution of artificial prey (without chemical cues) negatively impacted predator response. I also examined a tradeoff between prey defenses and nutritive value; both were proportional to prey size. Large aphid prey were preferred over small prey, regardless of defenses, but the bias toward large aphids was significantly greater when prey were not defended, which is consistent with optimal foraging theory.
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