The effect of host acceptability on oviposition and egg accumulation by the small white butterfly, Pieris rapae

R.J. Hopkins, J.J.A. van Loon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


The influence of host-plant acceptability on oviposition rate, egg load, internal fat storage and longevity was studied in the small white butterfly, Pieris rapae L. (Lepidoptera: Pieridae). Newly emerged females and males were presented with either cabbage (Brassica oleracea L. var. gemmifera), which is a highly acceptable host for the small white, or wallflower (Cheiranthus cheiri L.), which is much less acceptable for oviposition. Individuals were dissected when 3, 6 and 9-days-old. Females kept on cabbage contained fewer mature eggs than those kept on wallflower and there was no change in the load of mature eggs over the time course studied. The number of immature eggs carried did not vary with host plant species, but did fall significantly between days 6 and 9. The body fat content of individuals declined with increasing age, but the decline was slower for individuals kept on the host of low acceptability. Individuals that were allowed to spend their natural lifespan on cabbage showed similar oviposition patterns over time, where the oviposition rate started high and gradually reduced until death. However, considerable differences in oviposition pattern were found in individuals kept on wallflower, varying from that found on cabbage to no oviposition at all. The implications of these findings are discussed in the light of existing oviposition theories. This leads to the conclusion that in one species the premises of existing theories on optimization of oviposition are not mutually exclusive but rather play in concert.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157
JournalPhysiological Entomology
Publication statusPublished - 2001

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