Pretty Picky for a Generalist: Impacts of Toxicity and Nutritional Quality on Mantid Prey Processing

Prey have evolved a number of defenses against predation, and predators have developed means of countering these protective measures. Although caterpillars of the monarch butterfly, Danaus plexippus L., are defended by cardenolides sequestered from their host plants, the Chinese mantid Tenodera sinensis Saussure guts the caterpillar before consuming the rest of the body.

We hypothesized that this gutting behavior might be driven by the heterogeneous quality of prey tissue with respect to toxicity and/or nutrients…