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J Chem Ecol. 2003 Aug;29(8):1853-70.

Larval exposure to oviposition deterrents alters subsequent oviposition behavior in generalist, Trichoplusia ni and specialist, Plutella xylostella moths.

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Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, V6T 1Z4.


The present study was undertaken to determine the effects of larval feeding experience on subsequent oviposition behavior of the resulting moths. Larvae of the cabbage looper (Trichoplusia ni, Noctuidae) and the diamondback moth (Plutella xylostella, Plutellidae) were exposed to the phenylpropanoid allelochemical trans-anethole (at 100 ppm fw in artificial diet) or the limonoid allelochemical toosendanin (10 ppm sprayed on cabbage leaves). Both compounds had been shown to deter oviposition in naive moths in previous choice tests. Moths developing from "experienced" larvae (both sexes) showed a decrease in oviposition deterrence response when given a choice between control and treated leaves, unlike naïve moths. This phenomenon, analogous to habituation to feeding deterrents in lepidopteran larva, occurred irrespective of duration of feeding on the deterrent compound. We also observed that F1 larvae resulting from experienced moths (previously exposed to toosendanin as larvae) grew as well on toosendanin-treated foliage as on control foliage. In contrast, growth of F1 larvae from naïve moths was significantly impaired by toosendanin. These results demonstrate that host-selection behavior in cabbage looper (a generalist) and diamondback moth (a specialist) may be shaped by feeding experience according to Hopkins' Host Selection Principle in addition to chemical legacy.

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