U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


Main content area

Lonicera Implexa Leaves Bearing Naturally Laid Eggs of the Specialist Herbivore Euphydryas Aurinia have Dramatically Greater Concentrations of Iridoid Glycosides than other Leaves

Penuelas, J., Sardans, J., Stefanescu, C., Parella, T., Filella, I.
Journal of chemical ecology 2006 v.32 no.9 pp. 1925-1933
Lonicera, leaves, Euphydryas, butterflies, phytophagous insects, host plants, host specificity, oviposition sites, chemical constituents of plants, iridoid glycosides, Spain
We tested in the field the hypothesis that the specialist butterfly Euphydryas aurinia (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae, Melitaeinae) lays eggs on leaves of Lonicera implexa (Caprifoliaceae) plants with greater iridoid concentrations. We conducted our investigations in a Mediterranean site by analyzing leaves with and without naturally laid egg clusters. There were no significant differences in iridoid glycoside concentrations between leaves from plants that did not receive eggs and the unused leaves from plants receiving eggs, a fact that would seem to indicate that E. aurinia butterflies do not choose plants for oviposition by their iridoid content. However, the leaves of L. implexa that bore egg clusters had dramatically greater (over 15-fold) concentrations of iridoid glycosides than the directly opposite leaves on the same plant. These huge foliar concentrations of iridoids (15% leaf dry weight) may provide specialist herbivores with compounds that they either sequester for their own defense or use as a means of avoiding competition for food from generalist herbivores. Nevertheless, it may still be possible that these high concentrations are detrimental to the herbivore, even if the herbivore is a specialist feeder on the plant.