Charles J. Green, Chen Hou

Comparison of Energy Budget of Cockroach Nymph (Hemimetabolous) and Hornworm (Holometabolous) under Food Restriction

  • Insect Science

Animals with different life histories budget their intake energy differently when food availability is low. It has been shown previously that hornworm (larva of Manduca sexta), a holometabolous insect species with a short development stage, prioritizes growth at the price of metabolism under food restriction, but it is unclear how hemimetabolous insect species with a relatively long development period budget their intake energy under food scarcity. Here, we use orange head cockroaches (Eublaberus posticus) to investigate this question. We found that for both species under food restriction, rates of metabolism and growth were suppressed, but the degree of reduction was more severe in growth than that of metabolism for cockroaches. Under both free-feeding and food restriction conditions, hornworms allocated a larger fraction of assimilated energy to growth than to metabolism, and cockroaches were the opposite. More importantly, when food availability was low, the fraction of assimilated energy allocated to growth was reduced by 120% in cockroaches, and the energy from growth was channeled to compensate for the reduction in metabolism; but, the fraction of assimilated energy allocated to growth was only reduced by 14% in hornworms. These results suggest that, compared to hornworms, cockroaches prioritize metabolism over growth.

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