Caught between parasitoids and predators - survival of a specialist herbivore on leaves and flowers of mustard plants

D. Lucas-Barbosa, E.H. Poelman, Y.S.Y. Aartsma, T.A.L. Snoeren, J.J.A. van Loon, M. Dicke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The survival of insect herbivores typically is constrained by food choice and predation risk. Here, we explored whether movement from leaves to flowers increases survival of herbivores that prefer to feed on floral tissues. Combining field and greenhouse experiments, we investigated whether flowering influences the behavior of Pieris brassicae butterflies and caterpillars and, consequently, herbivore survival in the field. In this context, we investigated also if flowers of Brassica nigra can provide caterpillars refuge from the specialist parasitoid Cotesia glomerata and from predatory social wasps. By moving to flowers, caterpillars escaped from the parasitoid. Flowers are nutritionally superior when compared with leaves, and caterpillars develop faster when feeding on flowers. However, late-stage caterpillars can be preyed upon intensively by social wasps, irrespective of whether they feed on leaves or flowers. We conclude that flower preference by P. brassicae is more likely driven by nutritional advantages and reduced parasitism on flowers, than by risks of being killed by generalist predators.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-631
JournalJournal of Chemical Ecology
Volume40
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • enemy-free space
  • foraging behavior
  • food quality
  • ecological perspective
  • phytophagous insects
  • pieris-brassicae
  • natural enemies
  • high-mortality
  • floral scent
  • slow-growth

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