Selection for enemy-free space: eggs placed away from the host plant increase survival of a neotropical ithomiine butterfly

Authors

  • DONNA LISA DE-SILVA,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, U.K.
    2. Département Systématique et Evolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • ARMANDO SILVA VÁSQUEZ,

    1. Département Systématique et Evolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, Paris, France
    Search for more papers by this author
  • JAMES MALLET

    1. Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment, University College London, London, U.K.
    Search for more papers by this author

Donna Lisa de-Silva, Département Systématique et Evolution, Muséum National d’Histoire Naturelle, UMR CNRS 7205, CP50 45 Rue Buffon, Paris 75005, France. E-mail: desilva@mnhn.fr

Abstract

1. The selection of an oviposition site by a phytophagous insect can depend on many factors, including the risk of predation. Many species avoid predators by laying eggs where enemies searching host plants are unlikely to find them.

2. Females of the Peruvian butterfly, Oleria onega Hewitson (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Danainae: Ithomiini) lay most of their eggs (76 ± 9%) off the host plant, Solanum mite Ruiz & Pav. These off-host eggs may be laid up to 0.5 m from the nearest host-plant individual, on twigs or leaf litter, as well as on living plants of species unsuitable for larval food.

3. Disappearance of eggs on and off the host plant was recorded by transferring eggs laid in captivity to known locations in the wild and recording rates of disappearance before the larvae emerged. After 2 days, eggs on the host were significantly more likely to have disappeared compared to eggs laid elsewhere.

4. We conclude that a high risk of predation is a likely trigger that caused O. onega to evolve a behaviour of laying eggs off its host plant.

Ancillary