Oviposition site preference and developmental performance of a gall-inducing leafhopper on galled and non-galled host plants

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Oviposition preferences of herbivorous insects affect offspring performance. Both positive and negative links between oviposition preference and offspring performance have been reported for many species. A gall-inducing leafhopper, Cicadulina bipunctata Melichar (Hemiptera: Cicadellidae), feeds on various Poaceae plants and induces galls of enhanced nutritional value for their offspring. Although gall induction by C. bipunctata improves nymphal performance, the oviposition preference of females between galled and non-galled host plants is still unclear. In this paper, the nymphal performance and oviposition and feeding-site preference of C. bipunctata were investigated using galled wheat, Triticum aestivum L., and non-galled barley, Hordeum vulgare L., as host plants. The survival rate of C. bipunctata on wheat was significantly higher than on barley. In the choice test, significantly more eggs were laid into barley, whereas the number of eggs deposited on both hosts was not significantly different in the no-choice test. The number of settling individuals per leaf area was not significantly different between wheat and barley, suggesting no clear preference for oviposition between these plants. Experience as a nymph with a growing host did not affect oviposition preference as adult female. The inconsistent correspondence between offspring performance and oviposition preference of C. bipunctata may reflect the high mobility of nymphs and/or differences in leaf area between host plants. The results indicate that the previous finding that oviposition preference and offspring performance are not always positively correlated in herbivorous insects is applicable to gall-inducing insects.

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