Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology

, Volume 20, Issue 6, pp 383–388

Developmental change in aggregation, defense and escape behavior of buckmoth caterpillars, Hemileuca lucina (Saturniidae)

  • Jennifer C. Cornell
  • Nancy E. Stamp
  • M. Deane Bowers


Changes in response to attack and the tendency to aggregate were examined in the six larval instars of the buckmoth, Hemileuca lucina (Saturniidae). In response to simulation of attack by a parasitoid and of biting by a predator, early instars (I, II, and III) exhibited defensive behavior much more often than escape behaviors, whereas late instar larvae (IV, V, and VI) usually resorted to escape rather than defend themselves. The situations in which attacked larvae were most likely to stimulate other group members to respond were: second and third instar larvae thrashing in response to simulation of a parasitoid or headrearing in response to simulation of a biting predator; and fourth, fifth and sixth instar larvae dropping in response to either stimulus. An index of reaggregation indicated that first instar larvae had difficulty reaggregating; second, third and fourth instar larvae reaggregated quickly; and fifth and sixth larvae dispersed. As larvae developed, the change from predominantly defense to escape behaviors paralleled the decline in tendency to aggregate.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer C. Cornell
    • 1
  • Nancy E. Stamp
    • 2
  • M. Deane Bowers
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of Comparative ZoologyHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesState University of New YorkBinghamtonUSA

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