Eur. J. Entomol. 112 (1): 120-125, 2015 | 10.14411/eje.2015.001

Different host plant utilization ability of two closely related Melitaea species (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae)

János P. TÓTH1, Judit BERECZKI2, Zsolt VÉGVÁRI3, Edit JUHÁSZ2, Zoltán VARGA2
1 Research Institute for Viticulture and Oenology, Tarcal, Könyves Kálmán Str. 54., H-3915 Tarcal, Hungary; e-mail: acutiformis@yahoo.com
2 Department of Evolutionary Zoology & Human Biology, Institute of Biology & Ecology, University of Debrecen, Debrecen, Hungary; e-mails: bereczki.judit@gmail.com; batoriedit@yahoo.com; zvarga@tigris.unideb.hu
3 Department of Conservation Zoology, University of Debrecen - Hortobágy National Park Directorate, Sumen Str. 2, H-4024 Debrecen, Hungary; e-mail: vegvari@hnp.hu

In natural systems plant-insect interactions are influenced by several factors. For instance plants could be characterised by the presence of defensive chemicals and herbivores are forced to evolve resistance against them. There are several studies on induced plant defence, which indicate it can mediate competition between herbivorous insects, shaping host plant choice and community structure. Therefore, realized host plant use can be much narrower than the potential one. A laboratory experiment was done to clear up the possible difference in host plant utilization ability of Melitaea phoebe and Melitaea ornata, especially their utilization of Cirsium pannonicum. The caterpillars were reared individually on three different species of host plant (Ci. pannonicum, Ci. arvense and Centaurea scabiosa). The weights of the larvae were measured every second day and the data analysed using ANOVA. M. phoebe caterpillars developed well and all pupated when fed on Cirsium arvense and Centaurea scabiosa, whereas those fed on Cirsium pannonicum developed poorly and 10% died. In contrast, M. ornata developed well on Ci. pannonicum and the other two host plants. Despite this M. ornata was only found on Ci. pannonicum in Hungary.

Keywords: Lepidoptera, Nymphalidae, Melitaea phoebe, Melitaea ornata, Cirsium pannonicum, Cirsium arvense, Centaurea scabiosa, life history, plant-insect interaction, multiple mating, allozyme

Received: April 26, 2014; Accepted: August 19, 2014; Prepublished online: October 15, 2014; Published: January 25, 2015

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