Journal of Chemical Ecology

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 319–334 | Cite as

Response of generalist and specialist insects to qualitative allelochemical variation

  • M. Deane Bowers
  • Gillian M. Puttick


We examined the effects of a set of four biosynthetically related iridoid glycosides, aucubin, catalpol, loganin, and asperuloside, on larvae of a generalist,Lymantria dispar (Lymantriidae), the gypsy moth, and an adapted specialist, the buckeye,Junonia coenia (Nymphalidae). In general,L. dispar grew and survived significantly less well on artificial diets containing iridoid glycoside, compared to a control diet without iridoid glycosides. In choice tests, previous exposure to a diet containing iridoid glycosides caused larvae subsequently to prefer iridoid glycoside-containing diets even though they were detrimental to growth and survival. In contrast,J coenia larvae grew and survived better on diets with aucubin and catalpol, the two iridoid glycosides found in the host plantPlantago lanceolata (Plantaginaceae), than on diets with no iridoid glycoside or with loganin and asperuloside. The results of choice tests of diets with and without iridoid glycosides and between diets with different iridoid glycosides reflected these differences as well. These results are discussed in terms of (1) differences between generalists and specialists in their response to qualitative variation in plant allelochemical content, (2) the induction of feeding preferences, and (3) the evolution of qualitative allelochemical variation as a plant defense.

Key words

Iridoid glycoside Junonia coenia Lymantria dispar Lepidoptera Nymphalidae Lymantriidae induction insect-plant interaction generalist herbivore specialist herbivore 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. Deane Bowers
    • 1
  • Gillian M. Puttick
    • 1
  1. 1.Museum of Comparative ZoologyHarvard UniversityCambridge

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