Caterpillars of the notodontid Oedemasia leptinoides (formerly Schizura) use their mandibles to cut shallow girdles that encircle the petioles and stems of tree hosts. When girdles are complete, the larvae bathe the girdle surface with fluid. We test whether the fluid originates from the labial salivary glands or ventral eversible gland by blocking the openings to the glands and observing whether fluid is still released onto the girdles. Only larvae with functional labial salivary glands anointed girdles with fluid. Analysis of girdle rinses for a prominent salivary enzyme, glucose oxidase, confirmed that larvae apply saliva and documented that application occurs primarily at the end of girdling. We propose that girdling by notodontids, together with related furrowing and leaf-clipping behaviors exhibited by diverse caterpillar groups, serve at least in part to introduce salivary components to exposed vascular tissues; these compounds presumably function to suppress plant defensive responses normally elicited by caterpillar feeding.
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Many thanks to Madalyn Van Valkenburg for assistance in the laboratory and field, to Daniel Champion for assistance editing movies, to two anonymous reviewers for helpful suggestions, and to Jim Miller and David Wagner for providing useful information on notodontids. Financial support was provided by US Department of Agriculture–National Institute of Food and Agriculture Grant 2011-67013-30352 and National Science Foundation Grant IOS-1256326 (G.W.F), the University of Central Arkansas Research Council (D.E.D.), and the Arkansas Center for Plant-Powered Production (P3). The P3 Center is funded through the RII: Arkansas ASSET Initiatives (AR EPSCoR) I (EPS-0701890) and II (EPS-1003970) by the National Science Foundation and the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority.
Handling Editor: John F. Tooker.
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Movie 3 Final instar Oedemasia leptinoides on filter paper impregnated with alkaline phenolphthalein. Contact with forceps caused the larva to discharge its VEG repeatedly, each time expelling formic acid directly at the forceps causing the pH sensitive paper to change from pink to white (m2v 21020 kb)
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Dussourd, D.E., Peiffer, M. & Felton, G.W. Chew and spit: tree-feeding notodontid caterpillars anoint girdles with saliva. Arthropod-Plant Interactions 10, 143–150 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11829-016-9416-1
- Girdling behavior
- Glucose oxidase
- Labial salivary gland
- Oedemasia leptinoides