chapter  20
8 Pages

How Carnivorous Bugs Feed

Most families in the hemipteran suborder Heteroptera contain at least some species of zoophages. If Henry and Froeschner’s (1988) accounting of U.S. and Canadian Heteroptera reflects worldwide proportions, 65% of all families in this suborder are partially or entirely composed of carnivorous species. Although consideration of the original (carnivorous or phytophagous) trophic habits of this group makes for a fascinating discussion (see Cobben 1979; Sweet 1979; Schaefer 1993, 1997; Cohen 1996, 1998a,b), the purpose here is to describe the nature of the feeding method as it pertains to carnivory. No suggestions about the origin of predation or phytophagy in the Heteroptera will be made. Also avoided will be another related and equally fascinating area of discussion: that many heteropterans are well adapted for straddling both phytophagous and carnivorous feeding niches (Rastogi 1962, Slater and Carayon 1963, Ridgway and Jones 1968, Tamaki and Weeks 1972, Bryan et al. 1976, Wheeler 1976, Cobben 1978, Braimah et al. 1982). This explanation of the feeding method in predaceous Heteroptera should clarify some misunderstandings, misconceptions, and oversimplifications of a delightfully complex and efficient process.