Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 545–556

Dietary mixing in grasshoppers: Changes in acceptability of different plant secondary compounds associated with low levels of dietary protein (Orthoptera: Acrididae)

  • E. A. Bernays
  • D. Raubenheimer


Schistocerca americanasixth-instar nymphs were examined for a change in diet acceptance, in which insects experiencing an unfavorable diet subsequently become predisposed to eat relatively less of that diet and more of diets with a novel flavor than they would had they previously fed on a more adequate diet. Insects were pretreated for 4 h on either low-protein (2 % wet wt) or higherprotein (4%) artificial diets flavored with a plant secondary compound (tomatine or rutin). They were then offered, in choice or no-choice tests, the lowprotein diet with the familiar or a novel (tomatine, rutin, or NHT) flavor. When tomatine was the familiar and rutin the novel flavor in a no-choice test, the insects previously fed low-protein diets took relatively long meals on the novel and relatively short meals on the familiar diets compared with the insects that had previously eaten higher-protein diets. A similar, but in this case considerably less pronounced and statistically nonsignificant, pattern existed in the reciprocal design experiment in which rutin was the familiar and tomatine the novel flavor. Similarly, insects fed low-protein diets flavored with rutin subsequently showed an increased relative preference for the novel flavor (NHT) in a choice test, compared with the high protein-pretreated insects. It is concluded that insects fed protein-deficient diets may subsequently show a preference for novel foods through different mechanisms, the importance of which may differ in different circumstances.

Key words

Schistocerca grasshopper learning aversion novelty polyphagy dietary mixing 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. A. Bernays
    • 1
  • D. Raubenheimer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of ArizonaTucson

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