Cannibalism and Disease

Differential Grasshopper

Differential Grasshopper

Grasshoppers are known for voracious appetites and ability to damage crops. Their appetite can extend beyond plant feeding to feeding on dead animials including cannibalism of dead grasshoppers. One downside of cannibalism is the potential spread of infectious disease.  Two common fungi that kill grasshoppers are Beauveria bassiana and Metarhizium acridum. Is it common for these fungal diseases to spread through cannibalism?

Jaronski* compared cannibalism of grasshoppers killed by freezing to those killed by fungal infections. Grasshoppers readily cannibalized all or most of the uninfected grasshoppers killed by freezing. Grasshoppers avoided cannibalizing grasshoppers killed by fungi, leaving them largely untouched except for minor feeding on the tarsi. Grasshoppers have the ability to detect fungus infections in carcasses and avoid the consumption. This behavior could reduce the spread of these fungi in natural populations.

*Jaronski ST. 2013. Mycosis inhibits cannibalism by Melanoplus sanguinipes, M. differentialis, Schistocerca americana, and Anabrus simplex. Journal of Insect Science 13:122.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Cannibalism and Disease

  1. Pingback: Cannibalism and Disease | Entomo Planet

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