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Foraging and vein‐cutting behaviour of Euploea core corinna (W. S. Macleay) (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae) caterpillars feeding on latex‐bearing leaves

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Caterpillars of Euploea core corinna (W. S. Macleay) sever leaf veins prior to feeding on their latex‐bearing host plants, which restricts the flow of latex at feeding sites. The severing of leaf veins by insects feeding on latex‐bearing plants is commonly referred to as ‘sabotaging’ and is thought to be an evolved response by the insect to counter the negative effects of feeding on latex‐rich leaves. Sabotaging behaviour is described for all instars of E. core corinna, with particular attention given to neonates. Vein cutting by neonate E. core corinna caterpillars can occur within 2 h of hatching, with most caterpillars establishing feeding sites within 10 h. Commonly, first instars cut an arc‐shaped row of leaf side‐veins parallel to the leaf margin, but they may also cut the leaf mid‐rib in a fashion similar to older instar larvae. From a sample of 50 E. core corinna larvae, representing all instars, we found that the diameters of the veins cut by caterpillars are closely correlated to larval head width (r = 0.90). Through manipulative experiments, we demonstrate for the first time that sabotaging behaviour in neonate caterpillars imposes no detectable short‐term physiological costs on those caterpillars.
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Keywords: Danainae; Nymphalidae; latex defence; vein‐cutting

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Zoology and Entomology, The University of Queensland, Qld 4072, Australia.

Publication date: October 2, 2000

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