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A novel trade-off of insect diapause affecting a sequestered chemical defense

Fordyce, James A., Nice, Chris C., Shapiro, Arthur M.
Oecologia 2006 v.149 no.1 pp. 101-106
Battus philenor, butterflies, diapause, fecundity, food defense, foods, host plants, larvae, pupae
Diapause allows insects to temporally avoid conditions that are unfavorable for development and reproduction. However, diapause may incur a cost in the form of reduced metabolic energy reserves, reduced potential fecundity, and missed reproductive opportunities. This study investigated a hitherto ignored consequence of diapause: trade-offs involving sequestered chemical defense. We examined the aristolochic acid defenses of diapausing and non-diapausing pipevine swallowtail butterflies, Battus philenor. Pipevine swallowtail larvae acquire these chemical defenses from their host plants. Butterflies that emerge following pupal diapause have significantly less fat, a female fitness correlate, compared to those that do not diapause. However, butterflies emerging from diapaused pupae are more chemically defended compared to those that have not undergone diapause. Furthermore, non-diapausing butterflies are confronted with older, lower quality host plants on which to oviposit. Thus, a trade-off exists where butterflies may have greater energy reserves at the cost of less chemical defense and sub-optimal food resources for their larvae, or have substantially less energetic reserves with the benefit of greater chemical defense and plentiful larval food resources.