Send to

Choose Destination
J Insect Physiol. 1998 Jul;44(7-8):615-628.

Interactions between desiccation resistance, host-plant contact and the thermal biology of a leaf-dwelling sub-antarctic caterpillar, Embryonopsis halticella (Lepidoptera: Yponomeutidae).

Author information

Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


During May 1997 thermal tolerance, supercooling point (SCP), low and high temperature survival, and desiccation resistance were examined in field-fresh Embryonopsis halticella Eaton larvae from Marion Island. SCPs were also examined in acclimated larvae, larvae starved for seven days, larvae within their leaf mines, and in larvae exposed to ice crystals. Field-fresh larvae had a critical minimum temperature (CT(Min)) and critical maximum temperature (CT(Max)) of 0 degrees C and 39.7 degrees C, respectively. Mean SCP of field-fresh caterpillars was -20.5 degrees C and this did not change with starvation. Field-fresh larvae did not survive freezing and their lower lethal temperatures (70% mortality below -21 degrees C) and survival of exposure to constant low temperatures (100% mortality after 12hrs at -19 degrees C) indicated that they are moderately chill tolerant. SCP frequency distributions were unimodal for field-fresh larvae, but became bimodal at higher acclimation temperatures. Contact with ice-crystals caused an increase in SCP (-6.5 degrees C), but contact with the host plant had less of an effect at higher subzero temperatures. It appears that the remarkable desiccation resistance of the larvae is selected for by the absence of a boundary layer surrounding their host plant, caused by constant high winds. This suggests that the low SCPs of E. halticella larvae may have evolved as a consequence of pronounced desiccation resistance.

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center