The potential roles of the oral secretions (OS) of spruce budworm (SBW; Choristoneura fumiferana Clemens) larvae and factors that may affect the volume of OS disgorged were investigated in the laboratory. Experiments revealed that diet-fed SBW larvae readily disgorge OS when induced (“milked”), with minimal overall cost to their development and eventual pupal weight. Exposure of conspecific larvae to OS throughout larval development negatively affected survival and male pupal weight; however, male development time was faster when exposed to OS. Female pupal weight and development time were not affected. Preliminary experiments suggested that OS had a repellent effect on a co-occurring herbivore, the false hemlock looper, Nepytia canosaria (Walker). OS produced by larvae that fed on three host tree species and on artificial diet significantly increased the grooming time of ants (Camponotus sp.), indicating that SBW OS have an anti-predator function. The volume of OS is significantly greater in L6 than in L4 or L5, with the volume produced by L6 depending on weight and age as well as feeding history at time of milking. These findings indicate that SBW OS function as both an intra- and interspecific epideictic pheromone and as an anti-predator defensive mechanism, while incurring minimal metabolic costs.
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Vol. 44 • No. 6