Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Summary Direct observations on the feeding behavior of insect herbivores are uncommon, but important. The important aspects of host-plant selection by phytophagous insects that have been revealed by such observations are the role of chemicals in the leaf surface, and learning. There are few detailed reports of behavior at the leaf surface, but these indicate that many, if not all, insects exhibit behavior pattenrs that can be interpreted as an examination of the quality of the surface and acceptance or rejection may follow without further testing. A number of experiments show that chemicals from the leaf surface commonly contribute to the acceptability or otherwise of a plant and in most cases so far the active chemicals are of widespread occurrence, not having a specific association with the host plant. Some experiments show that the association between surface chemicals and plant palatability is learned, but in other cases there is evidence of an innate response. Habituation to deterrent chemicals has been demonstrated in the laboratory, but not in the field. Food aversion learning also occurs and may be important in dietary switching by polyphagous insects.
Type of Medium: