Cedric Jones, 2006

Howard University

Host plant choice in Lema trilinea: Is host plant relatedness more important than structural similarity to a specialist herbivore

The three lined potatoes beetle (Lema trilinea) is a specialist herbivore of plants in the Solanaceae family which include the genera Solanum and Physalis. Plants in the family Solanaceae are generally chemically defended against generalist herbivores but may also have physical structures that may serve as additional deterrents. Three experiments were performed in order to determine whether there was a significant relationship between chemical and structural defenses relating to Lema oviposition and larval performance. An oviposition experiment was performed to determine preference of adult beetles and larval performance experiments were performed to determine host plant suitability between preference of adult beetles while the larvae experiments were performed to determine performance correlations between host plants. The results show that the adult Lema almost exclusively choose to lay eggs on the two speices of Physalis. The larvae experiments, which involve bagged and non-bagged plants, show that larvae perform better on Physalis. The larvae that were placed on plants in the genus Physalis were recovered while larvae placed on the genus Solanum were not found.

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