Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 17, Issue 2, pp 391–399 | Cite as

Responses of two hymenopteran predators to surface Chemistry of their prey: Significance for an alkaloid-sequestering caterpillar

  • C. B. Montllor
  • E. A. Bernays
  • M. L. Cornelius


Larvae ofUresiphita reversalis (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) sequester quinolizidine alkaloids from their leguminous hosts and store them primarily in the cuticle. Stored alkaloids are lost with the last larval molt. Extracts of late-instar larvae and of pupae were applied to larvae of the potato tuber moth,Phthorimaea operculella (Zeller) (Gelichiidae), which are normally palatable to two hymenopteran predators, the Argentine ant,Iridomyrmex humilis (Mayr) (Formicidae), and the paper wasp,Mischocyttarus flavitarsus (Sauss.) (Vespidae). Larvae ofP. operculella treated with alkaloid extracts ofU. reversalis larval exuviae, or with surface extracts of whole larvae, were deterrent to both predators, compared to untreated prey. Extracts of pupal exuviae added toP. operculella, however, were not deterrent.P. operculella larvae treated with the authentic alkaloids sparteine and cytisine were also deterrent to these hymenopteran predators. Storage of small but concentrated amounts of plant secondary compounds in the cuticle appears to be an efficacious means of defense against at least two common predators of lepidopteran larvae.

Key Words

Lepidoptera Hymenoptera predation sequestration chemical defense cuticle 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • C. B. Montllor
    • 1
  • E. A. Bernays
    • 1
  • M. L. Cornelius
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Biological ControlUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeley

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