Counts of salivary sheaths and salivary flanges have been widely used in studies of feeding behavior and crop damage of pestiferous stink bugs (Hemiptera: Pentatomidae) and other sheath-feeding Hemiptera. While salivary flanges can effectively predict crop damage by stink bugs, previous studies have assumed that food consumption (e.g., ingestion) and preference can also be inferred from flange data. Yet this assumption has remained untested. We investigated the relationship between the number of stink bug salivary flanges and consumption of cotton bolls for two important agricultural pest species: Nezara viridula (L.) and Euschistus servus (Say). We inferred food consumption rates from measures of relative growth rate and excreta quantity. To measure excreta, we quantified the color intensity, or chromaticity, of excreta using digital image analysis. We found a positive relationship between growth rate and the number of flanges for fifth instars of E. servus. However, we found no relationship between growth or excretion and the number of flanges for all stages of N. viridula and for E. servus adults. Our results indicate that counts of salivary flanges should not be used to infer food consumption or preference in studies on N. viridula and E. servus adults, but can be used in studies of E. servus nymphs. Species-and stage-specific differences in the relationship between consumption and salivary flanges suggests distinct feeding strategies among species and stages; such differences may be potentially important in determining crop damage from pestiferous stink bugs.
- feeding preference
- salivary sheath