Non-pollinating florivores (animals feeding on floral resources) represent severe antagonists that have negative impacts on the plants' reproduction. Plants would thus benefit by excluding them from their flowers. In this study, we tested whether floral scent compounds that are attractive to many pollinators, also have the potential to prevent facultatively flower-feeding herbivores from consuming flowers. For feeding trials, we chose the bush cricket Metrioptera bicolor, a species that mainly consumes grasses, but also feeds occasionally on flowers. Linalool and β-caryophyllene (mono-and sesquiterpenoid, respectively) turned out to be effective antifeedants, while other floral scent compounds had no effect. Furthermore, bush crickets completely rejected flowers of Convolvulus arvensis (Convolvulaceae) and Melilotus alba (Fabaceae), while preferring flowers of Echium vulgare (Boraginaceae) over leaves. In addition to feeding experiments, excrement of bush crickets and other orthopterans were searched for pollen. Most individual bush crickets had pollen in their faeces, largely from Poaceae and Gymnosperms, suggesting accidental ingestion of wind-dispersed pollen, rather than targeted consumption of floral pollen. Our results support the hypothesis of a dual role of floral scents in attraction and defence.
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Vol. 19 • No. 1