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Factors influencing host plant choice and larval performance in Bactericera cockerelli.


Among the many topics of interest to ecologists studying associations between phytophagous insects and their host plants are the influence of natal host plant on future oviposition decisions and the mechanisms of generalist versus specialist host selection behavior. In this study, we examined the oviposition preferences, behavior and larval development of the tomato/potato psyllid, Bactericera cockerelli. By rearing psyllids with two distinct geographically-linked haplotypes on different host plants, we were able to examine the role of natal host plant and potential local adaptation on host plant usage. Choice bioassays among three host species demonstrated that psyllids from California had clear preferences that were influenced by natal plant. We further found that patterns in choice bioassays corresponded to observed feeding and movement responses. No-choice bioassays demonstrated that there is little to no association between development and host-plant choice for oviposition, while also indicating that host choice varies between haplotypes. These findings support the concept that mothers do not always choose oviposition sites optimally and also add support for the controversial Hopkins' host selection principle.

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