Submitted to: Journal of Lepidopterists Society
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/18/2002
Publication Date: 1/18/2003
Citation: Aiello, A., Solis, M.A. 2003. Defense mechanisms in pyralidae and choreutidae: fecal stalactites and escape holes, with remarks about cocoons,camouflage, and aposematism. Journal of Lepidopterists Society. 57: 168-175
Interpretive Summary: Many caterpillars are plant pests and cause great damage to crops. Better knowledge of how these caterpillars behave in their natural environment is critical to better pest control. In this paper we report on newly discovered behavior which will make it easier to identify caterpillars in the field and assess the damage they cause. This information will be useful to insect identifiers, pest managers, and regulatory personnel.
Technical Abstract: A novel behavior is reported in 2 species of Pyralidae and 2 species of Choreutidae from the Republic of Panama. The larvae of these 4 species cut escape holes in their leaves, and they link fecal pellets and hold them in place with silk on the undersides of leaves, to form what look like slender brown stalactites. These fecal stalactites may function as landmarks, or perhaps as decoys or camouflage. The larva of a species of Elachistidae cuts escape holes only. The larva of Monoloxis flavicinctalis is described.