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Larval performance in relation to oviposition site preference in olive kernel moth (Prays oleae Bern., Yponomeutidae, Praydina)

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1 The tri-voltine moth Prays oleae Bern. spends its larval stages on the native olive tree (Olea europaea L. var. sylvestris Brot. and five cultivars, Oleaceae) mining the leaves, the flowers and the fruits in each generation; it seldom switches to other native or introduced confamilial plant species.

2 In this study the pattern of oviposition of the olive moth was examined in olive fields and natural vegetation, in relation to in situ recruitment as an outcome of processes such as density dependence or risk spreading.

3 Larval body size (width of epicranial sclerites) was also examined and compared between host substrates, years and morphological, physiological, ecological and nutritional attributes of the host.

4 The factors influencing the oviposition pattern of the olive moth such as the carbon/nitrogen ratio, number of flowers, branch length and previous leaf damage were ranked differently in different cultivars.

5 ‘Hot spots’, i.e. olive trees or parts of trees receiving a high egg load, were found to be the result of in situ recruitment.

6 Physiological mortality among first instar larvae was significantly negatively correlated with the number of oviposited upon leaves; suggesting that the adult selects for oviposition the best available substrate.

7 As adult moths selected leaves with minimal probability of abscission for oviposition, leaf abscission was not a major mortality factor, although first instar larvae reduced leaf longevity.

8 Host quality did not affect all larval stages in the same way.

9 The more nutritionally poor the substrate, the longer the duration of the larval stage feeding on it. The phenological timing of the insect life stages very closely tracks the phenological phases of its host plant, primarily focusing on the most nutritious host stage in terms of larval performance.
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Keywords: Carbon; Olea europaea; Prays oleae; insect–plant coevolution; interference competition; larval performance; leaf miner; nitrogen ratio; oviposition preference; parasitism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Division of Informatics, Program of Natural Resources and Biodiversity Monitoring, Aharnon 381, 111 43 Athens, Greece

Publication date: 2000-11-01

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