Title

Host-specific and non-host-specific caterpillar prey choice

Date

5-28-2015 4:00 PM

End Time

28-5-2015 4:15 PM

Location

Natural Sciences (NS) 103

Department

Biology

Session Chair

Ava Howard

Session Chair

Jeffrey Snyder

Session Title

Research in the Biological Sciences

Faculty Sponsor(s)

Erin Baumgartner

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Locating food resources in a noisy environment may be difficult. Chemoreception of a caterpillar’s specific host plant reflects evolutionary constraints and a possible learned component. Because the ovipositing females of Lepidoptera use chemoreception to locate their host plant, then the larvae of Lepidoptera may also use chemoreception to identify the host plant for consumption. We hypothesized that artificial food would be chosen by caterpillars of two species over host and non-host plants and that host plants would be chosen over non-host plants. We used the caterpillars of painted ladies, Vanessa cardui, and cabbage whites, Pieris rapae, to test this hypothesis. We put both species through a series of choice trials. We measured, over a period of two hours, the number of caterpillars on each choice, and their distance from each choice. We used t-tests to compare each species’ choice of food items. We found that the cabbage whites were highly specific towards their host plant, kale, Brassica oleracea, compared to the non-conspecific host plant and the artificial food. The painted ladies were not as selective towards their own host plant, yarrow, Achillea millefolium, compared to the non-conspecific host plant and the artificial food.

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May 28th, 4:00 PM May 28th, 4:15 PM

Host-specific and non-host-specific caterpillar prey choice

Natural Sciences (NS) 103

Locating food resources in a noisy environment may be difficult. Chemoreception of a caterpillar’s specific host plant reflects evolutionary constraints and a possible learned component. Because the ovipositing females of Lepidoptera use chemoreception to locate their host plant, then the larvae of Lepidoptera may also use chemoreception to identify the host plant for consumption. We hypothesized that artificial food would be chosen by caterpillars of two species over host and non-host plants and that host plants would be chosen over non-host plants. We used the caterpillars of painted ladies, Vanessa cardui, and cabbage whites, Pieris rapae, to test this hypothesis. We put both species through a series of choice trials. We measured, over a period of two hours, the number of caterpillars on each choice, and their distance from each choice. We used t-tests to compare each species’ choice of food items. We found that the cabbage whites were highly specific towards their host plant, kale, Brassica oleracea, compared to the non-conspecific host plant and the artificial food. The painted ladies were not as selective towards their own host plant, yarrow, Achillea millefolium, compared to the non-conspecific host plant and the artificial food.