, Volume 22, Issue 4, pp 269–272 | Cite as

Selective sequestration of cardenolide isomers by two species of Danaus butterflies (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae)

  • Dietrich Mebs
  • Moritz G. Wagner
  • Stefan W. Toennes
  • Cora Wunder
  • Michael Boppré
Short Communication


Several species of milkweed butterflies (Danaini) are known to sequester cardenolides from their milkweed host plants. In adults of Danaus plexippus and D. gilippus, jointly raised on Asclepias curassavica (Asclepiadaceae), two host-plant cardenolides (calotropin and calactin) were found in significantly different ratios: in D. plexippus and the plant, they occurred in roughly equal ratios, but in D. gilippus, calotropin had a 10–12 times lower concentration, suggesting a selective sequestration of calactin. The two Danaus species belong to different subgenera and the results may be relevant to a better understanding of the evolution of cardenolide sequestration in Danaini.


Cardenolides Sequestration Selective storage Lepidoptera Danaini Danaus plexippus Danaus gilippus Asclepias curassavica 



Michael Boppré is grateful to Costa Rica’s Ministerio del Ambiente y Energía y Telecomunicación (MINAET) for granting him a Research Permit and to “El Bosque Nuevo” for their kind hospitality and assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dietrich Mebs
    • 1
  • Moritz G. Wagner
    • 1
  • Stefan W. Toennes
    • 1
  • Cora Wunder
    • 1
  • Michael Boppré
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity of FrankfurtFrankfurtGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Forest ZoologyUniversity of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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