Original Papers


, Volume 67, Issue 2, pp 278-281

First online:

A comparative study of the egg-laying behaviour and larval development of Pieris rapae L. and P. brassicae L. on the same host plants

  • C. R. DaviesAffiliated withImperial CollegeEntomology Division, CSIRO
  • , N. GilbertAffiliated withImperial CollegeEntomology Division, CSIRO

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Pieris rapae and P. brassicae feed on the same host plants and have synchronized seasons. P. brassicae, whose larvae are twice the size of P. rapae, lays eggs in clusters of 40–100 eggs whereas P. rapae lays single eggs. In this paper we examine how egg clustering may be advantageous for P. brassicae. The larval development of each species was studied, and found not to differ significantly. P. brassicae larvae were observed to migrate from their host plant after defoliating it. A comparison of the efficiency of host plant utilization by the two pierid species was undertaken by measuring the effect of larval feeding on the growth of their host plants (kale and brussel sprouts). The results show that egg clustering is advantageous for larval fitness in terms of host resource exploitation, and we suggest that P. brassicae is adapted for ovipositing on clumped vegetation, while P. rapae is selected for exploiting isolated plants.