Niche partitioning, co-evolution and life histories of erythrina moths, <i>Terastia meticulosalis</i> and <i>Agathodes designalis</i> (Lepidoptera: Crambidae).
Keywords:Africa, Agathodes ostentalis, Asia, Central America, coral bean, Erythrina variegata, Neotropics, pest, speciation, Spilomelinae
AbstractThe life histories of the erythrina leafroller, Agathodes designalis, and the erythrina stem-borer, Terastia meticulosalis from north central Florida are described and illustrated, complementing previous literature accounts. It is proposed that competition among larvae of these two crambid moths has resulted in ecological niche partitioning. In the studied populations, both species feed on the coral bean, Erythrina herbacea, and each species occupies different parts of the plant and different plants in the ecosystem. Larval behavior and morphology are consistent with adaptation for resource partitioning. Distribution, hostplant and life history information are compiled from the literature, with a special emphasis on the economic importance of T. meticulosalis throughout the tropical and subtropical regions of the world, where this species and its sister species, T. subjectalis, attack a variety of Erythrina species. In Florida, both species are multivoltine and their life history varies between generations, suggesting adaptation to changes in environmental and hostplant conditions. The co-evolution of these moths in association with the diverse, pan-tropical genus Erythrina is proposed and discussed.