Predatory Behavior of Polistes dominulus Wasps in Response to Cardenolides and Glucosinolates in Pieris napi Caterpillars
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- Rayor, L.S., Mooney, L.J. & Renwick, J.A. J Chem Ecol (2007) 33: 1177. doi:10.1007/s10886-007-9283-4
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To examine how plant allelochemicals in prey affect foraging choices made by generalist predator paper wasps, Polistes dominulus (Vespidae), we compared predation on Pieris napi (Pieridae) caterpillars reared on host plants with different allelochemicals. In naturalistic behavioral choice experiments, free-flying wasps chose between living pierids reared on cabbage (Brassica oleracea), which lacks deterrent allelochemicals, or alternate host plants with potentially deterrent allelochemicals. The alternative host plants were: wormwood mustard, (Erysimum cheiranthoides: Brassicaceae), which contains cardenolides; nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus: Tropaeolaceae) with high concentrations of chlorogenic acid; and black mustard (Brassica nigra: Brassicaceae) with high concentrations of the aliphatic glucosinolate, sinigrin. Although wasps captured equal numbers of caterpillars reared on cabbage and each alternate host plant, they spent significantly longer handling prey from the alternate host plants as they selectively removed the caterpillar’s gut, which contained the plant material. This was true even if the caterpillar did not sequester toxins in its tissues, as revealed by high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) analysis of Erysimum-reared pierids. Because handling time is longer, predators that capture pierids containing non-sequestered allelochemicals experience an overall reduction in foraging rate that may translate into a fitness cost.