The diversity of herbivorous insects may arise from colonization and subsequent specialization on different host plants. Such specialization requires changes in several insect traits, which may lead to host race formation if they reduce gene flow among populations that feed on different plants. Behavioural changes may play a relevant role in host race formation, for example if different races evolve distinct sexual communication signals or adult phenology. Previous research has revealed differences in larval phenology in different host-associated populations of the browntail moth, Euproctis chrysorrhoea (Lepidoptera: Erebidae). Here, sex pheromones among populations of this species are compared, and pheromone trapping data obtained is used in the field to build a phenological model that tests whether populations that feed on different plants differ in their adult flight period. The chemical and electrophysiological analyses revealed that two E. chrysorrhoea populations (on Prunus and on Arbutus unedo) use the same sex pheromone component for mate finding. Our trapping data, however, showed that males fly on average 25 days earlier in populations whose larvae feed on A. unedo compared to those whose larvae feed on Quercus species. Although the shifted phenology described here may underlie host-plant specialization in E. chrysorrhoea, and adults of this species are short-lived, the use of a common sexual pheromone and a large overlap in flight periods suggest that host race formation via allochronic isolation is unlikely in this moth.
|Status||Published - 2019 dec. 23|