Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Light environments affect herbivory patterns but not reproductive performance of a multivoltine specialist moth, Pareuchaetes pseudoinsulata.

Abstract

Unravelling the responses of insect herbivores to light-environment-mediated variation in the traits of their host plants is central to our understanding of the nutritional ecology of, and factors driving the population dynamics in, these species. This study examined the effect of light environment (shaded vs full-sun habitat) on leaf toughness and leaf nutritional quality in Chromolaena odorata (an invasive species in West Africa) and related these attributes to the abundance, herbivory patterns and reproductive performance of a multivoltine specialist moth, Pareuchaetes pseudoinsulata (a biological control agent). In this system, plants growing in shaded areas in the field experienced more herbivory and had higher herbivore abundance than those growing in full-sun. In the laboratory, P. pseudoinsulata larvae consumed significantly greater amounts of shaded foliage relative to full-sun foliage. However, reproductive performance metrics such as mating success, pre-oviposition period, number of eggs laid, duration of egg laying, egg hatchability, and adult longevity in P. pseudoinsulata did not differ according to foliage types. Reduced leaf toughness, increased water and nitrogen contents in shaded leaves coincided with increased leaf consumption by the larvae of P. pseudoinsulata. In summary, this study showed for the first time that light environments affect herbivory patterns but not reproductive performance of P. pseudoinsulata and hypothesized that high foliar nitrogen and water contents in shaded leaves resulted in feedback and necessity consumption patterns.