Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Karen M. Kester


The catalpa sphinx, Ceratomia catalpae, is a specialist on Catalpa trees, which produce iridoid glycosides (IGs). Whereas some trees are defoliated every year, others escape herbivory. Caterpillar populations are either heavily parasitized by the braconid wasp, Cotesia congregata, or remain unparasitized. We hypothesized that these patterns could be explained by variable IG concentrations among trees and insect responses to these chemicals. IG concentrations varied among trees. Percent defoliation was positively related to IG concentration. In comparisons of insect responses to relatively high or low IG concentrations, moths preferred to oviposit on trees with high IG concentrations. Caterpillars did not display a feeding preference nor did wasps differ in searching responses to leaf discs with high or low IG concentrations. Results indicate that observed patterns of herbivory can be explained by moth oviposition preferences for trees with high IG concentrations.


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Available for download on Wednesday, May 06, 2020