Pre- and post-ingestive defenses affect larval feeding on a lethal invasive host plant.
Evolutionary traps arise when organisms use novel, low-quality or even lethal resources based on previously reliable cues. Persistence of such maladaptive interactions depends not only on how individuals locate important resources, such as host plants, but also the mechanisms underlying poor performance. Pieris macdunnoughii (Remington) (Lepidoptera: Pieridae) lays eggs on a non-native mustard, Thlaspi arvense (L.) (Brassicaceae), which is lethal to the larvae. We first tested whether larval feeding behavior was affected before (pre-) ingestion or following (post-) ingestion of leaf material, indicating activity of feeding deterrents, toxins, or both in this evolutionary trap. Neonates were less likely to start feeding and eventually fed more slowly on T. arvense than on the native host plant Cardamine cordifolia (Gray) (Brassicaceae) in both laboratory and field. Starvation was a primary cause of mortality, indicating the role of a feeding deterrent. Feeding did not differ between larvae from invaded and uninvaded population. Second, T. arvense defensive chemistry is dominated by the glucosinolate sinigrin (allyl or 2-propenyl glucosinolate). Adding sinigrin to the leaves of T. arvense and native hosts C. cordifolia and Descurainia incana (Bernhardi ex Fischer & Meyer) (Brassicaceae) delayed the onset of feeding, caused larvae to feed more slowly, and decreased survival on the native hosts. This evolutionary trap may not be driven by a novel deterrent, but rather by a change in the concentration of a deterrent found in native hosts. Many insects have adapted to evolutionary traps posed by invasive plants, incorporating the new plant into their diets. Thlaspi arvense remains lethal to P. macdunnoughii, and pre-ingestive deterrents such as excess sinigrin may contribute to persistent maladaptation.