Parasitism levels in Orgyia leucostigma feeding on two tree species: implications for the slowgrowth highmortality hypothesis
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The slow-growth-high-mortality hypothesis proposes that increased development time in arthropods feeding on suboptimal food may result in an increased vulnerability to natural enemies. We measured the development time of the forest caterpillar Orgyia leucostigma J.E. Smith (Lepidoptera: Lymantriidae: Orgyiini) on two of its host plants and used a 7-year database on parasitism of this species to test the slow-growth-high-mortality hypothesis. We found that female O. leucostigma developed faster when fed on willow (Salix nigra Marsh) than when fed on box elder (Acer negundo L.). However, only one of the parasitoids of the parasitoid community that attack these larvae followed the prediction of the slow-growth-high-mortality hypothesis. Overall parasitism of O. leucostigma on willow was greater than in box elder, contradicting the slow-growth-high-mortality hypothesis prediction. This is the first test of the hypothesis to consider parasitism by several species in the parasitoid community attacking a free-feeding herbivore on two distantly related plant species. 2005 The Netherlands Entomological Society.