Eur. J. Entomol. 113: 320-324, 2016 | 10.14411/eje.2016.041

The cabbage moth or the sorrel moth (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)?

Jeffrey A. HARVEY1,2, Eke HENGEVELD2, Miriama MALCICKA1
1 VU University Amsterdam, Department of Ecological Sciences, Section Animal Ecology, De Boelelaan 1085, 1081HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands; e-mails: j.harvey@nioo.knaw.nl, m.malcicka@gmail.com
2 Netherlands Institute of Ecology, Department of Terrestrial Ecology, Droevendaalsesteeg 10, 6700 EH Wageningen, The Netherlands; e-mail: E.Hengeveld@nioo.knaw.nl

When insect herbivores develop over many generations on the same plant species, their descendants may evolve physiological adaptations that enable them to develop more successfully on that plant species than naïve conspecifics. Here, we compared development of wild and lab-reared caterpillars of the cabbage moth, Mamestra brassicae, on a cultivar of cabbage Brassica oleracea (cv. Cyrus) and on a wild plant species, sorrel, Rumex acetosa, on which the wild strain had been collected and reared for two earlier consecutive generations. The lab strain had been reared on the same cabbage cultivar for more than 20 years representing > 200 generations. Survival to adult did not vary with strain or plant species. Both strains, however, developed significantly faster when reared on R. acetosa than B. oleracea. Pupae from the field strain were larger when reared on B. oleracea than on R. acetosa, whereas the identity of the plant species did not matter for the lab strain. Our results show that long-term rearing history on cabbage had little or no effect on M. brassicae performance, suggesting that some generalist herbivores can readily exploit novel plants that may be chemically very different from those on which they have long been intimately associated.

Keywords: Lepidoptera, Noctuidae, Mamestra brassicae, Brassica oleracea, cabbage, Rumex acetosa, development

Received: January 15, 2016; Accepted: March 29, 2016; Published online: April 21, 2016

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