Phosphorus is extremely limited in the environment, often being 10–20 times lower in plants than what invertebrate herbivores require. This mismatch between resource availability and resource need can profoundly influence herbivore life history traits and fitness. This study investigated how dietary phosphorus availability influenced invertebrate growth, development time, consumption, condition, and lifespan using juvenile European house crickets, Acheta domesticus L. (Orthoptera: Gryllidae). Crickets reared on high phosphorus diets ate more food, gained more weight, were in better condition at maturity, and contained more phosphorus, nitrogen, and carbon in their bodies at death than crickets reared on low phosphorus diets. There was also a trend for crickets reared on high phosphorus diets to become larger adults (interaction with weight prior to the start of the experiment). These findings can be added to the small but growing number of studies that reveal the importance of phosphorus to insect life history traits. Future research should explore the importance of dietary phosphorus availability relative to protein, lipid, and carbohydrate availability.
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Vol. 11 • No. 63