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Journal of Insect Behavior

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 465–480 | Cite as

Uniformity of Leaf Shelter Construction by Larvae of Epargyreus clarus (Hesperiidae), the Silver-Spotted Skipper

  • Martha R. Weiss
  • Eric M. Lind
  • Meg T. Jones
  • Jeremy D. Long
  • Jennifer L. Maupin
Article

Abstract

Larvae of the silver-spotted skipper, Epargyreus clarus (Hesperiidae), construct shelters from leaves of their leguminous host plants, making four distinct shelter types that change predictably over larval ontogeny. Shelters built by first-instar larvae are located on the apical half of the leaflet and are almost invariant in size, shape, and orientation, suggesting a stereotypical process of shelter location and construction. We have determined that the regularity of these shelters results from a prescribed pattern of larval movements and behaviors, in which larvae use their body length as a “ruler” and employ silk not only as a building material but also as a template to guide the location of cuts in the leaf. Though lepidopteran larvae lack the sensitive antennae, long jointed appendages, and other measurement devices used by structure-building bees, wasps, and caddis flies, they can nonetheless use simple tools and behavioral patterns to produce characteristic and regular shelters.

Lepidoptera caterpillar leaf-roller leaf-tier leaf-folder 

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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martha R. Weiss
    • 1
  • Eric M. Lind
    • 1
    • 2
  • Meg T. Jones
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeremy D. Long
    • 1
    • 3
  • Jennifer L. Maupin
    • 1
  1. 1.Biology DepartmentGeorgetown UniversityWashington, DC
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyArlington
  3. 3.School of BiologyGeorgia Institute of TechnologyGeorgia

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