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Oviposition site selection of a threatened moth Eriogaster catax (Lepidoptera: Lasiocampidae) in agricultural landscape-implications for its conservation

Journal of Insect Conservation

Abstract

Shrubby field margins and hedgerows play an important role for many species of flora and fauna in agro-ecosystems, including those which are rare or endangered. A characteristic species of these semi-natural habitats in agricultural landscape is the Eastern eggar, Eriogaster catax (Linnaeus, 1758): a moth species threatened in many European countries. In this study we investigated the oviposition preferences of E. catax at host plant level in agricultural landscape in south-western Poland, near of the northern limit of the species distribution in Europe. In total we surveyed 796 host plants. Altogether we found 439 eggs batches or caterpillar webs of E. catax on 373 occupied plants. Most of them (92.3%) were on blackthorn Prunus spinosa, which was preferred host plant next to pear Pyrus spp. However, the most important predictor of the presence of egg batches were microclimatic conditions. We recorded that females preferred host plants exposed to direct sunlight and with south and west-facing slopes for oviposition and avoided those inside of the dense shrub canopy. Eggs were laid more often on the trunk and on the upper half of the host plant, however there was a significant difference in vertical and horizontal position of egg batches in relation to the position of the plant. Inside of the shrub canopy, eggs were laid in higher parts of host plant and closer to the trunk, than at the edge and on solitary plants. Based on our observations the management strategies for the habitats of the species are proposed and discussed.

Author(s): Kadej, M; Zajac, K; Tarnawski, D

Journal: Journal of Insect Conservation

Year: 2018

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