The Edible Katydid Ruspolia Differens Is A Selective Feeder On The Inflorescences And Leaves Of Grass Species
Malinga, Geoffrey M.
Lehtovaara, Vilma J.
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Ruspolia differens (Serville) (Orthoptera: Tettigoniidae, Conocephalinae) (its common names including ‘African edible bush-cricket’, ‘edible grasshopper’, and ‘nsenene’) is an important source of food for humans in East Africa, but its ecology and biology are poorly understood. We explored the host plants of R. differens with a series of no-choice and multiple-choice laboratory experiments using 18 local common grass and sedge species in Uganda. In no-choice experiments, the degree of acceptance differed significantly among the studied plant species, but in only three species were leaves rejected and in one species were inflorescences rejected. The pattern of acceptance among plant species was different in the local vs. swarming populations. Leaves were generally more accepted by the local population, whereas inflorescences were generally more accepted by the swarming population. Both leaves and inflorescences were more readily accepted by males than by females. According to the multiple-choice experiments, R. differens preferred inflorescences over leaves. Our results demonstrate that R. differens is a facultatively oligophagous grass-specialist, which has a clear preference for certain grass or sedge species (especially inflorescences), but it accepts many host plants if the preferred ones are not available. To preserve viable natural populations of R. differens in East Africa in the long term, our results draw special attention to the availability of grasslands where accepted and preferred host plants are available year-round.