Diet composition and social environment determine food consumption, phenotype and fecundity in an omnivorous insect.
Nutrition is the single most important factor for individual's growth and reproduction. Consequently, the inability to reach the nutritional optimum imposes severe consequences for animal fitness. Yet, under natural conditions, organisms may face a mixture of stressors that can modulate the effects of nutritional asymmetry. For instance, stressful environments caused by intense interaction with conspecifics. Here, we subjected the house cricket Acheta domesticus to (i) either of two types of diet that have proved to affect cricket performance and (ii) simultaneously manipulated their social environment throughout their complete life cycle. We aimed to track sex-specific consequences for multiple traits during insect development throughout all life stages. Both factors affected critical life-history traits with potential population-level consequences: diet composition induced strong effects on insect development time, lifespan and fitness, while the social environment affected the number of nymphs that completed development, food consumption and whole-body lipid content. Additionally, both factors interactively determined female body mass. Our results highlight that insects may acquire and invest resources in a different manner when subjected to an intense interaction with conspecifics or when isolated. Furthermore, while only diet composition affected individual reproductive output, the social environment would determine the number of reproductive females, thus indirectly influencing population performance.