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The carabid Pterostichus melanarius uses chemical cues for opportunistic predation and saprophagy but not for finding healthy prey

Ferrante, Marco, Barone, Giulio, Lövei, Gábor L.
BioControl 2017 v.62 no.6 pp. 741-747
Mamestra brassicae, Pterostichus melanarius, adults, biological control, coatings, detritivores, habitats, hemolymph, insect larvae, predation, predators
The sentinel prey method can quantify predation pressure in various habitats. Real prey is assumed to more realistically mimic the predator experience but the predator can rarely be identified. Artificial prey made of plasticine may lack real chemical cues, but provides information about predator identity. However, the relationship between predation pressure registered by artificial versus real prey is not clear. We tested the relative attractiveness of artificial caterpillars, and intact, wounded, or dead larvae of the cabbage moth (Mamestra brassicae) for the carabid predator Pterostichus melanarius Illiger (Coleoptera: Carabidae). P. melanarius adults were attracted to dead caterpillars more than to live or wounded ones. Coating artificial caterpillars with caterpillar haemolymph increased their attractiveness. However, predators were not attracted more to healthy, real caterpillars than to “untreated” artificial ones. We conclude that using artificial caterpillars does not underestimate predation pressure by this carabid on healthy caterpillars.