Light conditions affect the performance of Yponomeuta evonymellus on its native host Prunus padus and the alien Prunus serotina.
The bird cherry ermine moth, Yponomeuta evonymellus L., is considered an obligatory monophagous insect pest that feeds only on native European Prunus padus L. In recent years, however, increased larval feeding on alien P. serotina Ehrh. has been observed. In both species, general defoliation is extensive for shade grown trees, whereas it is high in P. padus, but very low in P. serotina, when trees are grown in full light conditions. The aim of the present study was to identify how the plant host species and light conditions affect the performance of Y. evonymellus. The influence of host species and light condition on their growth and development, characterized by the parameters of pupation, adult eclosion, body mass, potential fecundity, and wing size, was measured in a 2 × 2 experimental design (two light treatments, two hosts). In comparison with high light (HL) conditions, a greater percentage of pupation and a longer period and less dynamic adult emerge was observed under low light (LL) conditions. The effect of host species on these parameters was not significant. In contrast, mass, fecundity and all of the studied wing parameters were higher in larvae that grazed on P. padus than on P. serotina. Similarly the same parameters were also higher on shrubs in HL as compared with those grown under LL conditions. In general, light conditions, rather than plant species, were more often and to a greater extent, responsible for differences in the observed parameters of insect development and potential fecundity.