To determine whether local populations of four Hyalophora species (Lepidoptera: Satumiidae) had improved survival or were physiologically adapted for rapid and/or efficient growth on their local hosts, a series of larval feeding studies were conducted using gravimetric techniques on several host plant species. Significantly better survival and growth performances were observed for H. columbia (a tamarack specialist) on its host, Larix laricina. Similarly, H. gloveri had the best growth performance on Elaeagnus angustifolia (its favorite) as did certain sympatric populations of H. cecropia on black cherry, Prunus serotina. Hyalophora gloveri and H. columbia are largely sympatric with Betula papyrifera and perform better than their allopatric congeners H. cecropia in the east and H. euryalus in the west. While survival of the tamarack specialist was poor, all three of the other North American Hyalophora species survived and grew very well on choke cherry, Prunus virginiana, which is sympatric with all four Hyalophora species. The extent to which these are genetically based adaptations is not known, nor are the specific mechanisms of biochemical adaptation involved in these differential performances of larvae.
Scriber, J. Mark and Grabstein, Eric
"Foodplant Processing Adaptations in Four Hyalophora Species (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae): Regional and Taxonomic Specialization,"
The Great Lakes Entomologist: Vol. 24
, Article 8.
Available at: http://scholar.valpo.edu/tgle/vol24/iss2/8