The primary reason animals, including insect herbivores, eat is to acquire a mix of nutrients needed to fuel the processes of growth, development, and reproduction. Most insect herbivores strongly regulate their nutrient intake when given the opportunity. When they are restricted to imbalanced diets, they employ regulatory rules that govern the extent to which nutrients occurring in excess or deficit are eaten. Insect herbivores also regularly encounter allelochemicals as they eat, and recent work indicates the effect an allelochemical has on nutrient regulation, and insect herbivore performance, is modified depending on a food's nutrient composition. Comparative studies of nutrient regulation suggest coexisting generalist herbivores occupy unique nutritional feeding niches, and work with pathogens and parasitoids has revealed the manner in which top-down pressures influence patterns of nutrient intake. Insect herbivores regulate their nutrient intake using pre- and postingestive mechanisms, plus learning, and there is evidence that some of these mechanisms are shaped by natural selection.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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