Individual larval movement was studied in the laboratory to determine whether or not Ctenocephalides felis (Bouché) larvae display differences in the time spent in food patches of varying quality. Both early and late instars were tested. Young instars exhibited marked differences in their response to food patch quality. When no food was present, the mean time these larvae remained at the site was 24.5 h. When food patches contained feces only, eggs only, or equal amounts of feces and eggs, the time spent before leaving increased to 62.6, 120.5, and 192.3 h, respectively. The response by older instars was less dramatic. No differences were observed between food patches with only feces or eggs. Older larvae also remained longer in patches containing both feces and eggs (201.9 h). Our data suggest that C. felis larvae do not respond randomly to food patches of varying quality and that particular dietary components have an influence on movement behavior according to developmental stage. Obtaining all of the essential dietary components seems more critical in the early stages of development.
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