Adult nutrition and butterfly fitness: effects of diet quality on reproductive output, egg composition, and egg hatching success

Frontiers in Zoology
Thorin L GeisterKlaus Fischer


In the Lepidoptera it was historically believed that adult butterflies rely primarily on larval-derived nutrients for reproduction and somatic maintenance. However, recent studies highlight the complex interactions between storage reserves and adult income, and that the latter may contribute significantly to reproduction. Effects of adult diet were commonly assessed by determining the number and/or size of the eggs produced, whilst its consequences for egg composition and offspring viability were largely neglected (as is generally true for insects). We here specifically focus on these latter issues by using the fruit-feeding tropical butterfly Bicyclus anynana, which is highly dependent on adult-derived carbohydrates for reproduction. Adult diet of female B. anynana had pronounced effects on fecundity, egg composition and egg hatching success, with butterflies feeding on the complex nutrition of banana fruit performing best. Adding vitamins and minerals to a sucrose-based diet increased fecundity, but not offspring viability. All other groups (plain sucrose solution, sucrose solution enriched with lipids or yeast) had a substantially lower fecundity and egg hatching success compared to the banana group. Differences were particu...Continue Reading


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