Artemia cysts as an alternative food for the predatory bug
The suitability of cysts of the brine shrimp Artemia sp. as a factitious food for the predator Macrolophus pygmaeus Rambur was investigated. The influence of decapsulation time and hydration of the cysts on the performance of the predator were studied in the absence of plant material. A longer time of decapsulation had a positive influence on the development of the predator. Hydration of cysts had a significant impact on nymphal survival when cysts where non-decapsulated or poorly decapsulated. An experiment in which nymphs were switched from a diet of hydrated cysts to non-hydrated cysts showed that in the absence of plant material the relative importance of hydrating the cysts decreased with nymphal age. Especially, the first instar and to a lesser extent the second instar appear to be susceptible to water shortage. Effects of prolonged rearing on development and reproduction on brine shrimp cysts from different origins were tested in the presence of plant material. Rearing M. pygmaeus on Artemia sp. (Jingyu Lake) cysts yielded similar survival, development, adult weight and fecundity in the fourth as in the second generation. In contrast, for Artemia franciscana cysts, an increase in nymphal development was notable. Biochemical analyses showed that total amino acid content and the concentration of the different amino acids did not differ among diets and generations. There were, however, differences in total fatty acid content between the different diets and generations and in the concentration of certain fatty acids, indicating that insects fed brine shrimp cysts may show nutritional deficiencies compared to those reared on a diet of Ephestia kuehniella eggs. Our results indicate that decapsulated brine shrimp cysts are an economically viable alternative food source in at least part of the rearing process for M. pygmaeus.