The generalist predator, Orius insidiosus (Say), is an important natural enemy of the soybean aphid, Aphis glycines Matsumura. Soybean thrips, Neohydatothrips variabilis (Beach), serve as an important prey resource for O. insidiosus in soybeans, sustaining the predator’s population before the arrival of the soybean aphid. Although generalist predators can forage on a broad range of prey, they may show distinct preferences for particular prey, attacking prey at levels disproportionate to their relative numbers. To assess the preference of O. insidiosus for soybean aphid and soybean thrips, attack rates of nymphal and adult O. insidiosus were measured in the laboratory. For both adults and nymphs, the number of prey attacked increased as more prey were provided. For nymphs, the total number of prey attacked increased as the predator matured. In general, the number of prey attacked by adult predators was relatively constant as the predator aged. Both O. insidiosus nymphs and adults displayed a preference for soybean thrips, by disproportionately attacking soybean thrips over soybean aphid regardless of the relative densities of the two prey. We discuss implications of this preference on O. insidiosus life history characteristics and the potential impact on O. insidiosus–prey dynamics in the field.
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