, Volume 70, Issue 1, pp 77-84

Responses of Neodiprion sertifer (Hym., Diprionidae) larvae to variation in needle resin acid concentration in Scots pine

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We have studied how differences in needle resin acid concentrations between two clones of Scots pine influenced larval survival, larval developmental time, and cocoon weight in Neodiprion sertifer. Larvae were reared under controlled conditions in the laboratory on needles showing a three-fold difference, in resin acid concentration. Larval developmental time was significantly longer for larvae fed needles high in resin acids. No significant differences were found in cocoon weight. Larvae fed needles high in resin acids suffered significantly higher mortality, most of which occurred, in the first two instars. Data on relative growth rate for last-instar larvae, based on a traditional growth efficiency experiment, did not show any negative effects of resin acids, indicating that a possible induction takes place during early instars. Observations on the feeding behaviour of last-instar larvae, the high consumption of bark tissue (with high concentrations of resin acids) by larvae fed needles low in resin acids and preference for needle tissues high in resin acids, indicate that these larvae might actively search for tissues rich in resin acids. We conclude that the physiology and behaviour of N. sertifer has been shaped, in part, by the conflict between the negative effects of resin acids, primarily in early instars (longer developmental time with a corresponding increase in exposure to natural enemies and an increase in direct mortality), and the positive effect of resin acids in later instars (a need for resin acids for use in its own predator defence secretion).