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Keywords:

  • Pieris rapae;
  • feeding stimulants;
  • glucosinolates;
  • crucifers;
  • dietary experience;
  • dependence;
  • addiction;
  • deterrents

Abstract

When newly hatched larvae of P. rapae were transferred to cowpea foliage, they readily accepted this non-host as food, whereas later instars that had fed on cabbage rejected cowpea. However, when cowpea leaf discs were treated with aqueous extracts of cabbage foliage, they were accepted by cabbage-reared larvae. Experiments were conducted to determine whether larvae reared on one host plant would be stimulated to feed by extracts of other hosts. Larvae reared on Brassica juncea, Cleome spinosa, Tropaeolum majus, Sinapis alba, Alliaria petiolata, Barbarea vulgaris and cabbage (Brassica oleracea) were offered extracts of each of the other host plants on cowpea discs in choice assays. Larvae were generally stimulated to feed by extracts of all the alternate hosts, but quantitative differences in consumption occurred. In most cases, levels of discrimination between treatment and control cowpea discs showed no significant preference for extracts of the previously experienced plant. Since the test plants (and their extracts) contain glucosinolates of widely different structures, a general addiction to glucosinolates was suggested. A single glucosinolate, sinigrin, was sufficient to elicit feeding by cabbage-reared larvae. The time required for individual neonates to become addicted to glucosinolates as they fed on cabbage, as measured by refusal of cowpea, varied from 6 to 30 hours. Bioassays of cowpea extracts failed to show any deterrent activity and, therefore, supported the conclusion that addiction to glucosinolates is responsible for the fixation of P. rapae larvae on their host plants.