Prey-specific experience affects prey preference and time to kill in the soil predatory mite Gaeolaelaps aculeifer Canestrini

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Generalist predators potentially have access to a wide array of prey, but it is little studied how experience with specific prey affects preference for this prey. In particular, it is unknown how experience with pest prey affects predator foraging decisions in cases where the pest is nutritious but protected by a repelling, potentially deadly defence. We investigated preference of the soil predatory mite Gaeolaelaps aculeifer Canestrini for the risky pest springtail Protaphorura fimata Gisin relative to the safe non-pest springtail Folsomia candida Willem. Egg production under foraging on live or dead individuals of either prey showed that the two species had equal nutritional quality for G. aculeifer, but indicated that live F. candida were more difficult to catch than live P. fimata. Importantly, some G. aculeifer were killed by P. fimata defence secretions, demonstrating that live P. fimata are risky prey. Preference for P. fimata was generally high when mites were given a choice between a live individual of either prey, but this preference was reduced following exposure to live individuals of P. fimata. Furthermore, fewer G. aculeifer killed a prey and time until kill was longer after experience with live P. fimata. These findings indicate that live P. fimata induced a partial aversion on G. aculeifer during exposure. Our study shows that generalist predators can reduce their preference for risky prey following exposure. This indicates that generalist predators used in biological control against risky prey are most efficient against this prey if not exposed to it prior to release.

TidsskriftBiological Control
Antal sider6
StatusUdgivet - 2019

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