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Psyche
Volume 2013, Article ID 465108, 11 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/465108
Research Article

Ecological Observations of Native Geocoris pallens and G. punctipes Populations in the Great Basin Desert of Southwestern Utah

Department of Molecular Ecology, Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology, Hans-Knöll-Straße 8, 07745 Jena, Germany

Received 5 November 2012; Accepted 16 April 2013

Academic Editor: David G. James

Copyright © 2013 Meredith C. Schuman et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Big-eyed bugs (Geocoris spp. Fallén, Hemiptera: Lygaeidae) are ubiquitous, omnivorous insect predators whose plant feeding behavior raises the question of whether they benefit or harm plants. However, several studies have investigated both the potential of Geocoris spp. to serve as biological control agents in agriculture and their importance as agents of plant indirect defense in nature. These studies have demonstrated that Geocoris spp. effectively reduce herbivore populations and increase plant yield. Previous work has also indicated that Geocoris spp. respond to visual and olfactory cues when foraging and choosing their prey and that associative learning of prey and plant cues informs their foraging strategies. For these reasons, Geocoris spp. have become models for the study of tritrophic plant-herbivore-predator interactions. Here, we present detailed images and ecological observations of G. pallens Stål and G. punctipes (Say) native to the Great Basin Desert of southwestern Utah, including observations of their life histories and color morphs, dynamics of their predatory feeding behavior and prey choice over space and time, and novel aspects of Geocoris spp.’s relationships to their host plants. These observations open up new areas to be explored regarding the behavior of Geocoris spp. and their interactions with plant and herbivore populations.