, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 224–229 | Cite as

Quantification of host preference by manipulation of oviposition behavior in the butterfly Euphydryas editha

  • Michael C. Singer


This paper describes a novel method of measuring host specificity and determining host rank order. As applied to oviposition behavior of the butterfly Euphydryas editha, the rank order of preference is the order in which plants become acceptable as the insect searches, while specificity is quantified in terms of the rate at which searching insects become less discriminating. The information obtained is different from that gleaned from other preference testing techniques. It is useful in helping to assess the behavioral bases of interpopulation differences in the degree of host specialization, in understanding the ways in which multiple host use is generated within a population, and in testing hypotheses about the evolution of host specialization.

The data presented here show interpopulation variation in both rank order of host species and in the degree of host specificity of E. editha.


Testing Hypothesis Host Species Rank Order Host Specialization Glean 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Calvert WH (1974) The external morphology of forestarsal receptors involved with host discrimination by the nymphalid butterfly Chlosyne lacinia. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 67:853–856Google Scholar
  2. Cates RG (1980) Feeding patterns of monophagous, oligophagous and polyphagous insect herbivores: the effect of resource abundance and plant chemistry. Oecologia (Berl) 46:22–31Google Scholar
  3. Chew FS (1977) Coevolution of Pierid butterflies and their Cruciferous foodplants. II. The distribution of eggs on potential food plants. Evolution, 31:568–579Google Scholar
  4. Ehrlich PR, Murphy DD, Singer MC, Sherwood CB, White RR and Brown IL (1980) Extinction, Reduction, Stability and Increase: The responses of Checkerspot butterfly (Euphydryas) populations to the California drought. Oecologia (Berl) 46:101–105Google Scholar
  5. Ehrlich PR, White RR, Singer MC, McKechnie SW, Gilbert LE (1975) Checkerspot butterflies: a historical perspective. Science 176: 221–298Google Scholar
  6. Fox LR, Morrow PA (1981) Host Specialization: Species property of local phenomenon? Science 211:888–893Google Scholar
  7. Jones RE (1977) Movement patterns and egg distributions in cabbage butterflies. Journal of Animal Ecology 46:195–212Google Scholar
  8. Ives PM (1978) How discriminating are cabbage butterflies? Australiean Journal of Ecology, 3:261–276Google Scholar
  9. Rausher MD (1978) Search image for leaf shape in a butterfly. Science 200:1071–1073Google Scholar
  10. Rausher MD, Mackay DA, Singer MC (1981) Pre-and post-alighting host discrimination by Euphydryas editha butterflies: the behavioral mechanisms causing clumped distributions of egg clusters. Animal Behavior in pressGoogle Scholar
  11. Rothschild M, Schoonhoven LM (1977) Assessment of egg-load by Pieris brassicae (Lepidoptera; Pieridae) Nature 266:352–355Google Scholar
  12. Singer MC (1971) Evolution of food-plant preference in the butterfly Euphydryas editha. Evolution 25:383–389Google Scholar
  13. Smiley J (1978) Plant chemistry and the evolution of host specificity: New evidence from Heliconius and Passiflora. Science 201:745–747Google Scholar
  14. Stanton ML (1979) The role of chemotactile stimuli in the oviposition preferences of Colias butterflies. Oecologia (Berl) 39:79–91Google Scholar
  15. Wiklund C (1974) Oviposition preferences of Papilio machaon in relation to the host plants of the larvae. Entomologia experimentalis et applicata, 17:189–198Google Scholar
  16. Wiklund C (1975) The evolutionary relationship between adult oviposition preference and larval host range in Papilio machaon L. Oecologia (Berl) 18:185–197Google Scholar
  17. Wiklund C (1977) Oviposition, feeding and spatial separation of breeding and foraging habitats in a population of Leptidea sinapis (Lepidoptera). Oikos 28:56–68Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael C. Singer
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of Texas at AustinAustinUSA

Personalised recommendations