ABSTRACTPhytophagous insects may choose host plants based on conditions that enhance offspring performance. However, some insect species may also select plants based on attributes that enhance their own performance regardless of the consequences for offspring survival. An approach evaluating both hypotheses could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the host plant selection by phytophagous insects. In this study, we described the life stages of a Neotropical stink bug, Edessa contermina, co-occurring on Byrsonima verbascifolia plants in a conservation area of the Brazilian Savannah. We also empirically evaluated how food supply, shelter availability and competitors’ density on the host plants affected the densities of nymphs, adults and mating pairs. We identified and described five life stages of E. contermina. The amount of plant resources did not explain the nymph, adult and mating pairs’ density. However, adults and mating pairs chose plants with a low density of nymphs, probably because egg laying on the host plants with a high density of competitors may negatively affect offspring performance.

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