The effects of foliage damage on casebearing moth larvae, Coleophora serratella, feeding on birch


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ABSTRACT. Mechanical damage to birch (Betula pendula Roth) leaves leads to an increase in the concentration of phenolic compounds, which spreads throughout the leaf within 8 days. Coleophora serratella L. (Lepidoptera: Coleophoridae) apparently responds to this chemical change over a similar time scale. Within 24 h of pin‐pricking leaves the casebearer moves from the immediate vicinity of the damage, but is just as likely to move to an undamaged portion of the damaged leaf as to vacate the leaf entirely. After 8 days mines on undamaged portions of damaged leaves were significantly smaller than mines on undamaged leaves. Furthermore, Coleophora serratella reared on damaged trees took an average of 3 days longer to develop than those reared on undamaged trees. It has been suggested that increased movement in response to damage‐induced chemical changes causes hyperdispersed damage on plant foliage. Both within and between‐leaf casebearer damage patterns were shown to be aggregated on birch. Thus although mechanical damage can induce chemical and behavioural changes in the field, these are not reflected in the observed damaged patterns. We speculate on several possible reasons for this.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-250
Number of pages10
JournalEcological Entomology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1986


  • Coleophora
  • Leaf damage
  • birch
  • damage patterns
  • feeding behaviour
  • induced defences
  • movement
  • phenolics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Insect Science


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