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Stable and variable life‐history responses to temperature and photoperiod in the beet webworm, Loxostege sticticalis

Kutcherov, Dmitry, Saulich, Aida, Lopatina, Elena, Ryzhkova, Maria
Entomologia experimentalis et applicata 2015 v.154 no.3 pp. 228-241
Loxostege sticticalis, body weight, climate, diapause, ecophysiology, geographical variation, immatures, insects, larval development, life history, photoperiod, rearing, temperature
The beet webworm, Loxostege sticticalis L. (Lepidoptera: Crambidae), unlike many temperate insects and despite its wide distribution range, has a geographically stable value of the critical photoperiod for diapause induction. It has thus been hypothesized that the species could adjust its life cycle to different climates in an alternative way, which should be reflected in geographical variation and/or environmental plasticity of some other ecophysiological trait. Three remote populations of the beet webworm were studied. The insects were reared from egg to adult at several combinations of temperature and photoperiod in order to measure development times of all the immature stages and pre‐pupal body weight, and to characterize the sensitivity of these life‐history traits to the two ecological factors. The thermal reaction norms for immature development appeared to be significantly different in the three populations. There was also a significant effect of photoperiod on development time as well as on the thermal sensitivity and lower temperature threshold for larval development. Pre‐pupae from the northernmost population were heavier and their body mass was more strongly affected by photoperiod than in the other two, but attainment of a greater weight under short‐day conditions, especially combined with higher temperatures, was common for all the three populations. Nevertheless, all the discovered geographical and environmentally induced differences in life‐history traits were very small and their adaptive significance remains problematic.