Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 811–831 | Cite as

Decreased Response to Feeding Deterrents Following Prolonged Exposure in the Larvae of a Generalist Herbivore, Trichoplusia ni (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

  • Yasmin Akhtar
  • Catharine H. Rankin
  • Murray B. Isman


We investigated the role of experience with several antifeedants on the feeding behavior of a generalist herbivore, Trichoplusia ni. Second-, third-, and fifth-instar larvae of T. ni were examined for their feeding responses to plant extracts (Melia volkensii, Origanum vulgare) and individual plant allelochemicals (cymarin, digitoxin, xanthotoxin, toosendanin, and thymol), after being exposed to them continually beginning as neonates. All tested instars of T. ni were capable of showing a decreased antifeedant response following prolonged exposure to most of the antifeedants tested compared with their naive conspecifics. Cardenolides (digitoxin and cymarin) were the exceptions. The response to oregano was affected as a result of previous exposure to different concentrations of oregano, unlike M. volkensii, leading us to conclude that T. ni sensitivity varies between stimuli and cannot be generalized. To demonstrate that decreased deterrence following prolonged exposure to M. volkensii was the result of learned habituation, three aversive stimuli were used. A high concentration of the particular antifeedant, xanthotoxin, acted as a noxious stimulus and dishabituated (reversed) the decrement in the antifeedant response to M. volkensii. Cold shock or CO2 was marginally effective in dishabituating the response. The fact that the decrease in antifeedant response can be dishabituated has implications for pest management.

Trichoplusia ni antifeedants Melia volkensii Origanum vulgare pure compounds habituation dishabituation 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yasmin Akhtar
    • 1
  • Catharine H. Rankin
    • 2
  • Murray B. Isman
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of Agricultural SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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