, Volume 156, Issue 3, pp 559–568

Escaping an evolutionary trap: preference and performance of a native insect on an exotic invasive host


  • Margaret S. Keeler
    • Department of BiologyTufts University
    • Department of BiologyTufts University
Plant-Animal Interactions - Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00442-008-1005-2

Cite this article as:
Keeler, M.S. & Chew, F.S. Oecologia (2008) 156: 559. doi:10.1007/s00442-008-1005-2


Exotic plants may act as population sinks or evolutionary traps for native herbivores. The native butterfly Pieris oleracea lays eggs on garlic mustard, Alliaria petiolata, but larvae develop very poorly on this exotic invasive plant. We examined oviposition preference of individual females and larval performance of their offspring for individuals from one area where garlic mustard is well established and one where it is absent. These data were used to assess whether garlic mustard is being incorporated into or excluded from the diet. Females from the area without garlic mustard showed a wide range of preference, families had low larval survival on garlic mustard, and larval survivorship showed no correlation with mothers’ preferences. Females from the area with garlic mustard preferred it to the native host, and larval survivorship on garlic mustard was positively correlated with the mother’s preference. Individuals surviving on garlic mustard took longer to pupate and weighed >30% less compared to pupae reared on normal hosts. Our results suggest that where garlic mustard is well established P. oleracea may be adapting to this plant by both improved larval performance and increased adult female oviposition preference for it.


PierisAlliaria petiolataOvipositionDiet breadthPopulation sink

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008