Insect species exhibiting a weak linkage between adult preference and immature performance have frequently been shown to be prone to outbreaks. We used choice and no-choice tests to examine the preference-performance linkage of the xylem fluid-feeding leafhopper, Homalodisca vitripennis Germar. Leafhoppers were offered a choice of hosts common to their native range and also a choice from hosts where they have been recently introduced. Behavior (residence preference, oviposition preference, and consumption rates) was quantified in choice tests. Performance (development of immature leafhoppers, fecundity, body weights, and survivorship) was quantified in no-choice tests. Virtually all aspects of leafhopper behavior and performance varied with host species, yet there were no linkages between adult preference and immature performance. Lagerstroemia indica and Citrus sinensis were the preferred hosts, but both species supported <30% of neonate development until the second stadia. Glycine max was the superior developmental host with development to the adult stage exceeding 40%, but this host was seldom used by adult leafhoppers. Adult preference reflected aspects of adult performance including increases in fecundity, body weights, and survivorship. These preference-performance linkages were impacted by environmental context, insect reproductive status, and insect feeding history. Essential amino acids were consistently correlated with performance of both adult and developing insects; relationships between nutrients and preference were less consistent. The weak linkage of adult preference and immature leafhopper performance are discussed in terms of outbreaks of H. vitripennis.
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