, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 12–21

Chemical defence in chewing and sucking insect herbivores: Plant-derived cardenolides in the monarch butterfly and oleander aphid

  • Stephen B. Malcolm
Research papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF01240581

Cite this article as:
Malcolm, S.B. Chemoecology (1990) 1: 12. doi:10.1007/BF01240581


Cardenolide sequestration by a hemimetabolous aphid and a holometabolous butterfly from the neotropical milkweed,Asclepias curassavica L., is compared. The oleander aphid,Aphis nerii B. de F., sequestered a similarly narrow range of cardenolide concentrations to the monarch butterfly,Danaus plexippus (L.), from the wide range of concentrations available in leaves of A.curassavica. However, A.nerii sequestered significantly less cardenolide (269 µg/0.1 g) thanD. plexippus (528 µg/0.1 g). The honeydew excreted by A.nerii was comprised of 46% cardenolide. The complete polarity range of 25 cardenolides detected by thin layer chromatography in A.curassavica was represented in the 17 whole aphid cardenolides and the 20 aphid honeydew cardenolides detected. D.plexippus sequestered a narrower polarity range of 11 cardenolides, having eliminated low polarity cardenolide genins and glycosides. It is suggested that these chemical differences may be related to interactions among the broad feeding tactics of sucking or chewing milkweed leaves, life history constraints of holometabolyversus hemimetaboly, the distribution of milkweed food resources in space and time, and the dynamics of natural enemies.

Key words

chemical defence comparative sequestration feeding guilds insect herbivory natural enemies cardenolides Lepidoptera Danainae Danaus plexippus (L.) Homoptera Aphidae Aphis nerii B. de F. Asclepiadaceae Asclepias curassavica

Copyright information

© Georg Thieme Verlag 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen B. Malcolm
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Pure and Applied BiologyImperial College at Silwood ParkAscot, BerksUnited Kingdom