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Asota_speciosa

Latex sabotage of fig trees by caterpillars (Lepidoptera)

 

(Life: Kingdom: Metazoa (animals); Phylum: Arthropoda; Class: Hexapoda; Order: Lepidoptera)

 

 

Other Insects feeding on figs

Asota speciosa (Drury 1773) (Speciose Tiger moth).

 

Previously this species was classified in either the genus Aganais de Boisduval or Psephea Billberg, both of which are now regarded as junior synonyms of Asota (Vari, Kroon & Kruger 2002). Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Latex_sabotage

Early instar caterpillar of Asota speciosa feeding on Ficus bizanae.

Caterpillars of Asota speciosa feed on fig trees (Ficus species), which have a sticky milky latex that poses both physical (gumming up the caterpillar's mouth parts) and chemical hindrances for herbivores. Large caterpillars sabotage the latex flow by chewing into the leaf veins on the underside of the leaf (where these veins are more prominent than on the upper surface). This action interrupts the flow of latex. The caterpillar then feeds on the parts of the leaf that would have been provided with latex via the sabotaged veins (Compton, 1987). Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

 

 

Latex sabotage of fig leaf (Ficus burkei) by caterpillar of Asota speciosa. Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

Asota_speciosa

Mid instar caterpillar of Asota speciosa feeding on Ficus burkei.  Note sabotage at leaf base. Photograph © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa).

 

Late instar caterpillar of Asota speciosa feeding on Ficus burkei in Pietermaritzburg. Note sabotage at leaf base. Photographs © Alan Manson.

 https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/43576625


Other species that sabotage veins on fig leaves (Compton, 1989) include:

Silver U moth, Chrysodeixis acuta (Walker) (Noctuidae)

Mulberry Hawk moth, Pseudoclanis postica (Walker) (Sphingidae).


References

Compton, S.G. 1987. Aganais speciosa and Danaus chrysippus (Lepidoptera) sabotage the latex defences of their host plants. Ecological Entomology 12: 115-118.

Compton, S.G. 1989. Sabotage of latex defences by caterpillars feeding on fig trees. South African Journal of Science 85: 605-606.

Vári, L., Kroon, D.M., & Krüger, M. 2002. Classification and checklist of the species of Lepidoptera recorded in southern Africa. Simple Solutions, Chatswood Australia.

Credits

Photographs © Simon van Noort (Iziko Museums of South Africa), or © Alan Manson.

Web authors Simon van Noort (Iziko South African Museum)

and Jean-Yves Rasplus (INRA, France)

 

Citation: van Noort, S. & Rasplus, JY. 2021. Figweb: figs and fig wasps of the world. URL: www.figweb.org(Accessed on <day-month-year>).

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