Temperature and foliage quality affect performance of the outbreak defoliator Ormiscodes amphimone (F.) (Lepidoptera: Saturniidae) in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina
In the temperate forests of Chile and Argentina the phytophagous moth Ormiscodes amphimone (F.) causes severe defoliation on the southern beech tree Nothofagus pumilio (Poepp. & Endl.) Krasser. The recent increase in defoliation frequency in some áreas appears to be influenced by a warmer climate. To evalúate the effects of temperature and the spatial heterogeneity of foliage quality on the performance and relative consumption rate of O. amphimone in northwestern Patagonia, Argentina we conducted a factorial experiment. Larval performance was measured as relative growth rate, developmental time, larval survival, and pupal weight. Larvae of O. amphimone were reared under two constant temperature regimes (15 °C and 20 °C) and fed with two N. pumilio foliage types (from a mesic and from a xeric site). Larvae at the higher temperature and fed with leaves from the mesic site showed higher performance and consumption rate than larvae in the other treatments. Higher temperature and mesic foliage had positive effects on O. amphimone's relative growth rate, development time and relative consumption rate. However, pupal weight was positively influenced by mesic foliage but not by temperature, and larval survival did not show significant differences among treatments. Our results preliminarily suggest that O. amphimone performance and consumption rate may increase under higher temperature conditions, especially in the mesic portions of the precipitation gradient. However, these findings should be carefully interpreted as further research is necessary to assess the influence of higher temperatures on the foliar quality of N. pumilio.