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Using pure phytoecdysteroids isolated from Ajuga iva (L.) Schreber (Lamiales: Lamiaceae) and Silene nutans L. (Caryophyllales: Caryophyllaceae), plants known for their high ecdysteroid content, a study was carried out on the effects of ingestion of four different phytoecdysteroids (20-hydroxyecdysone, polypodine B, ponasterone A and makisterone A) on the growth and development of the Indian meal moth, Plodia interpunctella Hübner (Lepidoptera: Pyralidae) larvae when added at a concentration of 200 ppm in their diet. The experiments clearly showed the susceptibility of P. interpunctella to phytoecdysteroid ingestion. The toxicity of phytoecdysteroids manifested itself by a decrease in larval weight, induction of cannibalism and an increase of mortality, together with disruption of development. The severity of the phytoecdysteroid effect on P. interpunctella depended on the structure of the molecule. The results demonstrate that the minimal structural differences existing between these four phytoecdysteroids significantly affected their toxicity toward P. interpunctella. Makisterone A was the most toxic of the four compounds towards P. interpunctella larvae. In conclusion, phytoecdysteroids ingestion evokes disruptive growth effects on P. interpunctella. This work supports a role for phytoecdysteroids in plant defence against phytophagous insects.