Shelter-building behavior and natural history of two pyralid caterpillars feeding on Piper stipulaceum.
Bottom Line: Shelter-building behavior was found to be constrained by the ontogenetic stage of caterpillars and influenced by leaf size of the host plant, Piper stipulaceum Opiz (Piperales: Piperaceae) .A similar pattern of shelter-building behavior exhibited by Tosale n. sp. near cuprealis larvae that coexisted in the same host plant is also described.Larvae of the second species were significantly less abundant than those of Lepidomys and hatched one month later in the rainy season, which could indicate some competitive interactions between these two pyralid species.
Affiliation: Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), México D.F., México Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, 2023 G St. NW Suite 340, Washington, D.C., USA email@example.com.Show MeSH
Mentions: Once the caterpillar had chosen a leaf, it secured itself with a silk strand to the leaf base and trenched the petiole (Figure 5A). Caterpillars ate the tissue they removed during this process. In general, trenching was finished when only the inferior part of the epidermis remained. Then the trenched region was silked (Figure 5B), securing the leaf to the plant. Although it was rare for a caterpillar to keep trenching until the leaf fell from the plant, it was occasionally observed in the present study. Sometimes caterpillars silked beyond the trenching site, in the closest node, securing the whole petiole to the plant (Figure 5C). After petiole silking, caterpillars went to the center of the leaf base (Figure 5D) and extended silk strands perpendicular to the petiole, folding the leaf (Figure 5E) until both sides of the leaf touched. During this process it is common for caterpillars to eat portions of the leaf base tissue, which probably facilitates folding. To build the main chamber, the caterpillar went to one of the leaf ends, rolled it and silked two portions of the leaf together, and subsequently cut the edges (Figure 5F, G). Caterpillars spent most of their resting time inside the main chamber and they left it only to feed within the secondary chamber and reinforce the shelter's silk joints. The main chamber was covered by the secondary chamber, which was often colonized by insects and spiders. Recently-built shelters (Figure 5H) remained occupied even when they were completely dry (Figure 5I) because caterpillars are able to feed on dry foliage (Abarca and Boege 2011). Occasionally, caterpillars were observed trenching a fresh leaf and silking it to their shelter to feed on it without leaving the original shelter (Figure 5J).
Affiliation: Departamento de Ecología Evolutiva, Instituto de Ecología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), México D.F., México Department of Biological Sciences, George Washington University, 2023 G St. NW Suite 340, Washington, D.C., USA firstname.lastname@example.org.