Adaptive significance of egg size plasticity in response to temperature in the migrant skipper, Parnara guttata guttata (Lepidoptera: Hesperiidae)
Females of the migrant skipper, Parnara guttata guttata, that are reared under lower temperatures lay smaller eggs. The adaptive significance of egg size plasticity in response to temperature is unknown in this species. We suggest, based on the following experimental results, that P. g. guttata uses temperature as an indirect cue to predict the host condition (leaf toughness) of the next generation. First, larvae were reared under the typical conditions of temperature and photoperiod experienced during the immature stages in the first, second, and overwintering (third) generations (LD 16:8 at 25°C, LD 14:10 at 25°C and LD 14:10 at 20°C). Females reared under LD14:10 at 20°C produced more, smaller eggs than those reared under LD14:10 and LD16:8 at 25°C. Secondly, survival rates of first instar larvae derived from females reared under the three photoperiod/temperature treatments were measured on young soft rice leaves (soft), or tough, old rice leaves (tough). Survival rates of hatchlings reared on soft and tough leaves did not differ when females were reared under LD16:8 and LD14:10 at 25°C. However, hatchling survival was significantly higher on soft than on tough leaves when females were reared under LD14:10 at 20°C. Thirdly, we found that egg size plasticity in response to temperature in P. g. guttata may be a threshold response. Temperatures below 20°C experienced during the immature stages may be effective for production of smaller and more eggs in the overwintering generation of P. g. guttata.