|Title||Differential effect of tannic acid on two tree-feeding Lepidoptera: implications for theories of plant anti-herbivore chemistry|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||1989|
Feeding efficiencies of ultimate instar larvae of two polyphagous tree-feeding Lepidoptera, Malacosoma disstria (Lasiocampidae) and Orgyia leucostigma (Liparidae), were measured on artificial diets containing from 0% to 8% tannic acid. Relative growth rate (RGR) of O. leucostigma was not affected by up to 8% tannic acid, suggesting that O. leucostigma has evolved an effective counteradaptation to hydrolyzable tannins. In contrast, as little as 0.5% tannic acid caused a significant reduction in RGR of M. disstria, due both to reduced efficiency of conversion of digested food (ECD) and reduced relative consumption rate (RCR), and caused a significant increase in mortality during the pupal stage. Moreover, when reared from hatching on tannin-containing diets, no M. disstria larvae survived past the fourth instar. Although tannins are commonly referred to as "digestibility-reducing substances", tannic acid did not reduce the ability of M. disstria or O. leucostigma larvae to digest either the whole diet or nitrogen contained in the diet. For M. disstria, tannic acid acts as a toxin and a feeding deterrent, but not as a digestibility-reducing substance. Growing evidence that tannins commonly act as toxins warrants a reassessment oftheir role in anti-herbivore chemistry.