The impact of an insect-free artificial diet provided at nymphal and/or adult stage upon the developmental rate, life table parameters, and fertility table parameters was examined for Podisus maculiventris (Say). This study showed that when fed an insect-free artificial diet during both the nymphal and adult stage, developmental time was prolonged, preoviposition period was extended, and reproductive rate (R0) and intrinsic rate of increase (r) were significantly lower than when fed larval insect prey at both nymphal and adult stages. Additionally, feeding larval prey to adults reared as nymphs on an artificial diet significantly increased the proportion of fertile females, the number of eggs laid by mated females, the reproductive rate and intrinsic rate of increase, but the mean generation time was not significantly different. Likewise, feeding artificial diet to adults reared on larval prey resulted in a significant reduction in reproductive rate and intrinsic rate of increase. The “realized” cost to rear P. maculiventris on the artificial diet was calculated (as the cost to double the population size) using raw material cost, fertility table parameters and doubling time values. Raw material cost for rearing P. maculiventris colony on Trichoplusia ni (Hübner) (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae) was only 1.4 times higher than the cost of artificial diet raw materials required to rear the same size colony. However, the realized cost of rearing was 3.5 times higher when rearing on artificial diet because of the prolonged developmental time and reduced reproductive output. The cost efficiency of rearing a beneficial insect on an artificial diet that decreases the intrinsic rate of increase of a colony is discussed, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of supplementing adult diets with natural prey at the reproductive stage.
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Vol. 94 • No. 6