Egg size manipulation in the migrant skipper, Parnara guttata guttata (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae), in response to different host plants

  • Mizumoto M
  • Nakasuji F
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Female adults of the migrant skipper, Parnara guttata guttata, lay different-sized eggs on dif- ferent host plants in different generations. Moreover, P. g. guttata maintains large egg size variation either in the population or in the individual. Why such phenotypic plasticity in egg size is maintained has not been clari- fied. In the present study we performed a series of experiments to verify whether or not females of P. g. guttata discriminate between the different host plants, i.e., rice plant Oriza sativa in the first and second gen- erations and cogon grass Imperata cylindrica in the third (overwintering) generation and manipulate egg size accordingly on these host plants. When a caged female was allowed to lay eggs alternatively on soft- leafed rice plant and tough-leafed cogon grass, the size of the eggs laid on cogon grass was significantly larger than that on rice plant. When a caged female was al- lowed to lay eggs on the two host plants that were supplied on alternate days, the size of eggs laid on co- gon grass was also significantly larger than that on rice plant. A preliminary experiment using crude extract from the plants suggested that females did not manip- ulate egg size in response to chemical stimulants alone. The skipper female was able to lay different-sized eggs instantaneously after assessing the host plant. However, the reaction norm to different host plants differed among females. Eggs of various sizes were matured in each ovariole, and egg size variation at the lowest part of the ovariole ranged from the size of the larger eggs laid on cogon grass to that of the smaller eggs laid on rice plant, although how the female chose the appro- priate-sized egg at each occasion is unknown.

Author-supplied keywords

  • Chemical stimulant
  • Leaf toughness
  • Oviposition preference
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Seasonal polymorphism

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  • Makoto Mizumoto

  • Fusao Nakasuji

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