Wednesday, 20 November 2002

This presentation is part of : Display Presentations, Subsection Cd. Behavior and Ecology

Chemical defense and aposematism: The case of Utetheisa in the Galápagos Archipelago

William E. Conner1, Lazaro Roque-Albelo2, Frank C. Schroeder3, Alexander Bezzerides4, E. Richard Hoebeke5, Jerrold Meinwald3, and Thomas Eisner4. (1) Wake Forest University, Department of Biology, P.O. Box 7325, Winston-Salem, NC, (2) Charles Darwin Research Station, Department of Entomology, Casilla 17-01-3891, Quito, Ecuador, (3) Cornell University, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Baker Laboratory, Ithaca, NY, (4) Cornell University, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior, Seeley G. Mudd Hall, Ithaca, NY, (5) Cornell University, Department of Entomology, Comstock Hall, Ithaca, NY

The genus Utetheisa (Lepidoptera, Arctiidae) includes more than 40 species and subspecies worldwide, almost all gaudily colored day flyers. They are generally considered aposematic. This view is supported by detailed studies of the diurnal arctiid Utetheisa ornatrix, which are distasteful as both larvae and adults by virtue of pyrrolizidine alkaloids sequestered from their larval food, generally Crotalaria sp. In the Galápagos Islands there are four species of Utetheisa: U. ornatrix, U. galapagensis, U. devriesi, and U. perryi. The latter three species are endemic to the islands and vary in coloration from drab brown to gray - distinctly non-aposematic. They feed as larvae on Tournefortia sp. (Boraginaceae). U. galapagensis and U. perryi appear to sequester pyrrolizidine alklaloids from their larval food. What happened to the aposematism?

Species 1: Lepidoptera Arctiidae Utetheisa ornatrix
Species 2: Lepidoptera Arctiidae Utetheisa galapagensis
Species 3: Lepidoptera Arctiidae Utetheisa perryi
Keywords: aposematism, pyrrolizidine alkaloids

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