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A Butterfly Picks Its Poison: Cycads (Cycadaceae), Integrated Pest Management and Eumaeus atala Poey (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) | Abstract
Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research

Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology: Current Research
Open Access

ISSN: 2161-0983

Abstract

A Butterfly Picks Its Poison: Cycads (Cycadaceae), Integrated Pest Management and Eumaeus atala Poey (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae)

Koi S

The imperiled Atala hairstreak butterfly, Eumaeus atala Poey 1832 (Lepidoptera: Lycaenidae) is a specialist species historically living in southeast Florida’s endangered pine rockland ecosystems. Until relatively recently, the butterfly used North America’s only native cycad Zamia integrifolia L. (Zamiaceae: Cycadales), commonly called “coontie,” as the host plant for its offspring. With the introduction of many non-native and valuable cycads into botanical and domestic gardens, the butterfly has expanded its choices to include these exotic species. Conservation of both the plant and insect is complex as herbivory can damage the plant, but control of the larval damage may be detrimental to the fragile populations of the butterfly. Larval and adult host plant choice tests were implemented to compare larval survival, development rates and subsequent adult choice between Z. integrifolia and non-native Zamia vazquezii L. (Zamiaceae: Cycadales), a popular garden cycad that is critically endangered in its native Mexico. Results indicate that both adults and larvae chose native more often than non-native; larval survival decreased, but development time increased, as did adult lifespan when utilizing Z. vazquezii. Adult survival to successful mating and fecundity occurred with either host choice. Integrated pest management techniques are discussed for avoiding pesticide use to control larval herbivory on valuable cycads.

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