Previous studies have suggested that the developmental pattern of insect body parts is influenced by food conditions during the nymphal stages. In this study, we compared the developmental patterns of five body parts (body length, fore-femur length, mid-femur length, hind-femur length, and angle of claw) in the predatory insect Lethocerus deyrolli Vuillefroy fed three diets (tadpoles, Odonata nymphs, and tadpole–Odonata nymph mixture) during the nymphal stages. Significant age by sex interactions were detected in body length, fore-femur length, mid-femur length, and hind-femur length, indicating developmental patterns of these traits varied between sexes. Significant age by food interactions were detected in body length and hind-femur length and were marginally significant in mid-femur length, showing developmental patterns of these traits varied among food types. None of the interactions were significant in angle of the claw. A predation experiment was performed using double-claw nymphs as a control and one-claw nymphs (adult type) as a treatment. Double-claw nymphs successfully caught both large and small tadpoles, whereas one-claw nymphs caught small tadpoles more frequently than large tadpoles. Our results suggest that the claw development, which is very likely related to predatory function, may be less affected by nutritional conditions, and that double claws during nymphal stages may be indispensable to increased predation success.
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Vol. 99 • No. 1