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Larval diet affects number of femoral ‘brush’ scales in male Helicoverpa punctigera moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

  • Nurindah (a1), G.H. Walter (a1) and R.L. Tiongson (a1)

Abstract

Males of Helicoverpa punctigera (Wallengren) show considerable variation in the number of femoral scales on the prothoracic legs. Such intraspecific variation in adult morphology could indicate the presence of undetected sibling species, or it may be related to larval diet. Helicoverpa punctigera is polyphagous, and different host plant species are likely to represent diets of different quality. Femoral lengths and the numbers of femoral scales on the prothoracic legs were therefore determined from: (i) individuals that had been collected as larvae from various host in the field; and (ii) individuals that had been laboratory-reared, in split-family tests, on different diets, namely cotton, lucerne, sowthistle and artificial diet. Host plant species (and therefore presumably diet quality) influenced femoral length of H. punctigera males perhaps in conjunction with this, the number of femoral scales on the fore leg. The rearing experiment indicated, in addition, that the effect of host plant quality varies with larval stage, and that the pattern of this variation across the immature stages is dependent on host plant species. recorded variation in the morphology of field-collected H. punctigera males is therefore most readily explained as a consequence of different individuals developing (at least for most of their larval life) on different host plant species, with diet quality varying significantly species. The relevance of these results for insect developmental studies and evolutionary interpretations of host relationships is outlined.

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*Fax: (61 7) 3365 1922 E-mail: g.walter@mailbox.uq.edu.au

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Larval diet affects number of femoral ‘brush’ scales in male Helicoverpa punctigera moths (Lepidoptera: Noctuidae)

  • Nurindah (a1), G.H. Walter (a1) and R.L. Tiongson (a1)

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