, Volume 95, Issue 3, pp 376–384 | Cite as

Presence of predatory wasps and stinkbugs alters foraging behavior of cryptic and non-cryptic caterpillars on plantain (Plantago lanceolata)

  • Nancy E. Stamp
  • M. Deane Bowers
Original Papers


We examined the foraging patterns of two species of caterpillar (Junonia coenia: Nymphalidae and Spilosoma congrua: Arctiidae) that contrast in feeding specialization and crypticity on plantain (Plantago lanceolata) in the absence and presence of two different insect predators [stinkbugs, Podisus maculiventris (Pentatomidae) and wasps, Polistes fuscatus (Vespidae)]. Junonia larvae were quite apparent to human observers, feeding on upper leaf surfaces during daylight, whereas Spilosoma larvae were relatively cryptic, often hiding under leaves and in soil crevices during daylight. In the presence of either predator species, the non-cryptic Junonia caterpillars more quickly left the plant on which they were initially placed and were less apparent than Junonia larvae not exposed to predators. The presence of predators had no detectable influence on where the caterpillars occurred on the plants (new, intermediate-aged or mature leaves, or reproductive stalks). Surprisingly, the predators influenced the behavior of the inherently cryptic Spilosoma: the apparency of these larvae at night increased when wasps had access to the plots during the day. Survivorship of the non-cryptic Junonia was less than 12% when stinkbugs were present compared to 60% in their absence. Although the presence of wasps resulted in a lower relative growth rate for the non-cryptic Junonia larvae, the indirect effect of predators on reduction in survivorship due to alterations in prey growth rate through behavioral changes was less than 3%. After taking into account the decline in caterpillars per plot through predation, we found that both the amount of leaves eaten and the proportion of plants eaten were altered on plots with predators present, which suggests that the caterpillars' increased consumption countered increased maintenance costs due to the presence of predators. Overall, our results indicate that hostplant size, level of predation and type of predator can influence the degree to which these caterpillars react to the presence of insect predators. In contrast, degree of inherent feeding specialization and cryptic behavior seemed to have little effect on the expression of reactive behaviors of these caterpillars to predators.

Key words

Predator-prey interaction Junonia coenia Spilosoma congrua Podisus maculiventris Polistes fuscatus 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nancy E. Stamp
    • 1
  • M. Deane Bowers
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesBinghamton University, State University of New YorkBinghamtonUSA
  2. 2.University of Colorado Museum and Department of E.P.O. BiologyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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