, Volume 103, Issue 1, pp 24–33

Contributions of female oviposition patterns and larval behavior to group defense in conifer sawflies (hymenoptera: diprionidae)

  • Sylvio G. CodellaJr
  • Kenneth F. Raffa
Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/BF00328421

Cite this article as:
Codella, S.G. & Raffa, K.F. Oecologia (1995) 103: 24. doi:10.1007/BF00328421


We studied the effects of adult oviposition and larval interactions on the defensive potential of gregarious behavior in conifer sawflies. Aggregation size and distribution initially reflected adult host plant selection and oviposition behavior. The contagious distribution of egg clusters resulted in part from the utilization of individual trees by multiple females, and of single host shoots by several females. Trees with the greates degree of prior defoliation received the most eggs, even though the potential for larval crowding made resource depletion possible. Foliar monoterpene and nitrogen contents explained only a small proportion of variability in female host utilization. Conifer needle architecture restricted the size of larval subgroups within aggregations, and limited the degree of defensive cohesiveness between subgroups. Subgroup turnover was frequent and independent of local food depletion. Risk of predation from wood ants varied with larval aggregation size and predator foraging level. When ant activity was high, large aggregations suffered greater numerical losses, but showed lower per capita predatory risk, than small groups. Results suggest that female oviposition patterns are influenced in part by the defensive benefits gained by offspring in large aggregations. Against ants, dilution effects and defensive synchrony due to gregariousness contribute to the overall antipredator strategy of sawfly larvae.

Key words


Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvio G. CodellaJr
    • 1
  • Kenneth F. Raffa
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EntomologyUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyNorthland CollegeAshlandUSA