, Volume 63, Issue 1, pp 23–29 | Cite as

Egg-laying patterns in butterflies in relation to their phenology and the visual apparency and abundance of their host plants

  • Christer Wiklund
Original Papers


  1. 1.

    The egg-laying behaviour in the wild of 51 butterflies in Sweden is studied: three different patterns emerge. Firstly, although the majority of butterflies deposit their eggs on the plants on which their larvae later feed, butterflies that overwinter in the egg stage and use herbaceous host plants tend to avoid laying their egges on host plants

  2. 2.

    Secondly, butterflies which use host plants that are superabundant, notably the grass-feeding satyrids, also tend not to deposit their eggs on the leaves on which the larvae later feed. Among the Swedish satyrids, two of the three species which do deposit their eggs on the larval hosts overwinter in the pupal stage, thus necessitating rapid larval development.

  3. 3.

    Thirdly, butterflies which use visually apparent host plants seem to find their host plants without having to alight on non-hosts, whereas butterflies that use hosts that are visually non-apparent frequently alight on non-host plants during the oviposition search before they find the appropriate plants.

  4. 4.

    The possible adaptive significance of these egg-laying patterns is discussed.



Host Plant Larval Development Adaptive Significance Pupal Stage Larval Host 
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. Askew RR (1971) Plant parasitic insects. American Elsevier, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Courtney SP (1982) Coevolution of pierid butterflies and their cruciferous foodplants. IV. Crucifer apparency and Anthocharis cardamines (L.) oviposition. Oecologia 52:258–265Google Scholar
  3. Feeny PP (1976) Plant apparency and chemical defense. In: Wallace J, Mansell R (eds) Recent Adv Phytochem 10, Plenum Press, New York, pp 1–40Google Scholar
  4. Feeny PP (1982) Ecological aspects of insect-plant relationships-round-table discussion. Proc 5th int Symp Insect-Plant Relationships, Wageningen, Pudoc, Wageningen, pp 275–284Google Scholar
  5. Frohawk FW (1924) Natural history of British butterflies. Hutchinson and Co., LondonGoogle Scholar
  6. Henriksen HJ, Kreutzer IB (1982) The butterflies of Scandinavia in nature (in Danish). Skandinavisk Bogforlag, OdenseGoogle Scholar
  7. Levins R, MacArthur R (1969) An hypothesis to explain the incidence of monophagy. Ecology 50:910–911Google Scholar
  8. Magnus D (1950) Beobachtungen zur Balz und Eiablage des Kaisersmantels Argynnis paphia. Z f Tierpsychol 7:435–449Google Scholar
  9. Rausher M (1978) Search image for leaf shape in a butterfly. Science 200:1071–1073Google Scholar
  10. Rausher M, MacKay DA, Singer MC (1981) Pre- and post-alighting host discrimination by Euphydryas editha butterflies: The behavioural mechanism causing clumped distributions of egg clusters. Anim Behav 29:1220–1228Google Scholar
  11. Rothschild M, Schoonhoven LM (1977) Assessment of egg load by Pieris brassicae. Nature 226:352–355Google Scholar
  12. Singer MC (1983) Butterfly-plant relationships. Symp Roy Ent Soc LondGoogle Scholar
  13. Wiklund C (1974) Oviposition preferences in Papilio machaon in relation to the host plants of the larvae. Ent Exp Appl 17:189–198Google Scholar
  14. Wiklund C (1977) Oviposition, feeding and spatial separation of breeding and foraging habitats in a population of Leptidea sinapis. Oikos 28:56–68Google Scholar
  15. Wiklund C (1982) Generalict versus specialist utilization of host plants among butterflies. Proc 5th int Symp Insect Plant Relationships, Wageningen, Pudoc, Wageningen, pp 181–192Google Scholar
  16. Wiklund C, Åhrberg C (1978) Host plants, nectar source plants, and habitat selection of males and females of Anthocharis cardamines. Oikos 31:169–183Google Scholar
  17. Wiklund C, Persson A, Wickman P-O (1983) Larval aestivation and direct development as alternative strategies in the speckled wood butterfly, Pararge aegeria, in Sweden. Ecol Entomol 8:233–238Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christer Wiklund
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of StockholmStockholmSweden

Personalised recommendations