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Keywords:

  • feeding preference;
  • flower;
  • oviposition preference;
  • polygamodioecious;
  • sexual dimorphism

Abstract

Flowers of dioecious plants have sexually dimorphic traits that may affect florivore performances, and florivores may have preferences to plant sex that are correlated with their performance on different plant sexes. We investigated the florivory on a polygamodioecious evergreen shrub Eurya japonica in Japan to reveal florivores and their feeding patterns involved in sexually biased florivory on E. japonica flowers. Flowers of E. japonica were infested by lepidopteran and dipteran larvae and hemipteran insects. Lepidopteran larvae were chewers, dipteran larvae were gall makers and hemipteran insects were suckers. Chewed flowers were most frequent among infested flowers. Of florivores, lepidopteran larvae, mostly of Geometridae, were the important florivore that damaged flowers by chewing. Florivores infested male flower buds more often than female flower buds, but only a geometrid larvae Chloroclystis excise, which exclusively uses flower buds, showed the biased infection on male flowers. Rearing experiments for two other geometrid moths which use both leaves and flowers showed that the preference and performance of Ourapteryx nivea that fed mainly leaves did not differ between the plant sexes, whereas the development of Alcis angulifera larvae which fed both leaves and flowers was slower when they fed female than male leaves and flower buds. In addition, A. angulifera larvae fed fewer flower buds on female than on male plants. These results show that the male-biased florivory on E. japonica trees is attributed mainly to the specialist florivore and also feeding preference for male flowers in an opportunistic florivore that feed both leaves and flowers.