Oviposition by autumn gum moth (Mnesampela privata) in relation to Eucalyptus globulus defoliation, larval performance and natural enemies
1 Eucalyptus globulus Labill. exhibited consistent intraspecific variation in oviposition choice by Mnesampela privata (Guenée) (Lepidoptera: Geometridae) in field surveys of host plants that had been designated, based on the prior season's defoliation levels, as resistant or susceptible to M. privata. At both field sites significantly fewer egg batches were found on resistant compared to susceptible trees.
2 In cage bioassays we demonstrated a significant oviposition preference by M. privata, with over two-fold greater number of egg batches laid on foliage sprigs from susceptible compared to resistant trees. Despite differences in tree oviposition choice, we found no evidence in the field or the laboratory of adult females adjusting egg batch size in accordance to oviposition preference.
3 Caged larval survival, development times and pupal weight did not vary significantly between resistant and susceptible trees. Similarly, in a laboratory feeding experiment, neonates utilized resistant and susceptible foliage equally.
4 Larval mortality in the field attributed to natural enemies did not vary significantly between resistant and susceptible trees, nor did the percentage of Telenomus sp. parasitism of M. privata eggs within a batch and batches per tree.
5 Failure to associate either larval performance or natural enemy efficacy with the observed intraspecific variation in E. globulus susceptibility to M. privata oviposition indicates that some other unidentified factors drive the evolution of host selection for oviposition.