Biology ETDs

Publication Date



The host plant preferences of two generalist lepidopteran herbivores were investigated at a field site near Albuquerque from 1977 to 1979. Observations of larvae in the field and measurements of available biomass for each host plant were combined to calculate preference rankings for host plants. Similarly, the relative preference of each herbivore for young or mature leaves was calculated. Both Estigmene acrea (Drury) and Hyles lineata (Fabricius) preferred to feed on Rumex hymenosepalus in the spring. H. lineata is univoltine and was not observed feeding on any other plant species. E. acrea is bivoltine and feeds on Senecio longilobus, Helianthus petiolaris, Atriulex canescens, and Salsola kali during the summer, with a preference for S. longilobus. E. acrea preferred mature leaves over young leaves of all its host plants; H. lineata did not show a preference for young or mature leaves. It is suggested that qualitative defenses present in higher concentration in young leaves have provided the selection pressure for E. acrea's preference for mature leaves.



Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Rex Gordon Cates

Second Committee Member

Randy Thornhill

Third Committee Member

Clifford Smeed Crawford

Included in

Biology Commons