Original Paper


, Volume 104, Issue 1, pp 1-11

First online:

Host plant influence on chemical defense in conifer sawflies (Hymenoptera: Diprionidae)

  • S. G. CodellaJr.Affiliated withDepartment of Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • , K. F. RaffaAffiliated withDepartment of Biology, Northland College

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Host diet affects the defensive efficacy of Neodiprion sawflies. In laboratory assays with wood ants (Formica obscuripes), secretions from larvae reared on Pinus banksiana were the most repellent, while those from P. resinosa feeders were the least so. This was explained diterpene resin acid content, but not total monoterpene content. The terpene content of regurgitant generally reflected dietary concentrations. Compounds were sequestered nonselectively by larvae. Host-based differences in defense persisted at the behavioral level. P. banksiana feeders regurgitated greater volumes of fluid and were less likely to be disabled or killed by ants in one-on-one interactions than were larvae fed on P. resinosa. The defensive advantages of host diet conflicted with developmental requirements. N. sertifer reared on P. banksiana (the best diet for defense in all cases) had lower cocoon weights (a correlate of fecundity) than those reared on other diets, and had prolonged larval development compared to insects fed P. sylvestris. No such tradeoff was detected in N. lecontei. Larvae of both species strongly preferred P. banksiana over P. resinosa in feeding choice assays.

Key words

Antipredator Tradeoffs Neodiprion Formica Pinus